Coronavirus: Latest figures show drop-off in new universal credit claims in Barking and Dagenham amid national increase

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 August 2020

The latest Universal Credit figures have been released by the DWP. Picture: Chris Young

The latest Universal Credit figures have been released by the DWP. Picture: Chris Young

PA Wire/PA Images

The number of new claims for universal credit has fallen as the UK continues to recover from coronavirus.

Between June 11 and July 9, there were 773 new claims made in Barking and Dagenham, compared to 1,537 for the previous month (between May 14 and June 11).

Though these extra claims mean there are currently 28,778 people on universal credit in the borough, the smaller increase between June and July is “encouraging”, says Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) customer service leader Kay Pegler.

However, this must be considered against the national picture which shows that as of July 9 there are 5.6 million people on universal credit across the country — an increase of two per cent from the month before.

Although mindful that these numbers may rise come the end of the furlough scheme in October, Kay believes “things could be much worse if it wasn’t for the measures introduced by the government”.

The department’s latest focus is on sector-based work academies, open to anyone in receipt of benefits who is ready to work.

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While not a new invention, Kay explains that the DWP aims to create more of these academies “to help meet immediate and future recruitment needs”.

The idea is to work with prospective employers to tailor a programme suited to their needs, with anyone enrolled guaranteed a job interview at the end of the placement, during which childcare and travel costs are paid.

Those interested are asked to contact their work coach for further information.

Barking and Dagenham approached lockdown with almost 15,000 claimants, recording 14,544 on March 12.

In contrast, Havering had 9,649 at the same point, though Newham (19,806) and Tower Hamlets (20,244) recorded much higher numbers.

This latest rise — 773 new claimants — is notable when compared to the jump of 8,391 recorded between April 9 and 
May 14.

Between sector-based work academies and the Flexible Support Fund (intended to cover interview costs such as travel and clothes), Kay says there are a number of measures in place designed to “give people the tools they need to thrive”.

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