Wednesday, 8 April 2020


Coronavirus: Nearly a million universal credit claims in past two weeks

Nearly a million people have applied for universal credit benefits in the past fortnight as the coronavirus pandemic has worsened.

The Department for Work and Pensions said 950,000 successful applications for the payment were made between 16 March, when people were advised to work from home, and the end of the month.

The department would normally expect 100,000 claims in a two week period.

Officials said they were working "flat out" to help people get support.

But Labour said the figures were "truly shocking" and the government "must wake up and take action" to help the millions of those at risk of losing their jobs and the self-employed not covered by government hardship schemes.

The figures show the massive increase in demand on the benefit system since the government urged people to avoid non-essential travel and contact with others to curb the spread of the virus.

There was a warning on Wednesday that 20% of small businesses could fold in the next month due to the collapse in consumer demand, despite unprecedented government intervention to support jobs.

'Pressure on services'

Universal credit is a consolidated monthly payment for those of working-age, which replaced a host of previous benefits including income-based jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit.

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