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King's Lynn Universal Credit rise as virus takes its toll




Not only has the coronavirus caused a tragic loss of life, it has also affected larger parts of the economy according to North West Norfolk MP James Wild.

Department for Work and Pensions data compiled from local Jobcentres shows 6,199 people in Lynn applied to Universal Credit over the space of a month leading up to April 9, increasing from 4,291 the previous month. On the second Thursday of February, there were a total of 4,125 applicants.

Mr Wild said: “Many people in West Norfolk have benefited from the job retention or self-employment schemes but where they do not qualify then Universal Credit is there to help.

James Wild MP.
James Wild MP.

“Frontline staff have worked very hard, and additional capacity has been put in place, to process new claims and ensure that the vast majority get their payments on time.

Anyone one who needs funds urgently can get an advance on payments with most claimants receiving money within 72 hours.”

There has been a huge national rise in people applying for Universal Credit benefits ever since the government advised people to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak in March.

The rise of Universal Credit applications during the coronavirus in King's Lynn
The rise of Universal Credit applications during the coronavirus in King's Lynn

A DWP spokesperson said: “Universal Credit is providing vital support for all those who need it during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The system has stood firm in the face of unprecedented demand and our dedicated staff have gone above and beyond to help process more than two million new claims in less than two months.

"These are challenging times, but Universal Credit is providing a vital safety net to those affected by the pandemic and we’ve taken action by injecting over £6.5 billion to support people using the welfare system, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor.”

Even more the pandemic, the number of people within West Norfolk and Lynn had been rising exponentially.

Reliance on government support for living costs increased by nearly three million from December 2018 to November 2019.

The pre-pandemic rise of Universal Credit amongst households in Breckland and West Norfolk
The pre-pandemic rise of Universal Credit amongst households in Breckland and West Norfolk

A total of 787 households were claiming Universal Credit within the borough in December 2018 according to the Department for Work and Pensions data.

By November 2019, that figure had increased to 3,609 with each month seeing a gradual increase during the 11 months.

There was also a noticeable within Breckland during this pre-pandemic period of time. In December 2018, there were 1,571 households making use of the benefits payments. In November 2019, this had increased to 3,517.

Universal Credit is a monthly payment which the government state people may be eligible for if they are on a low income or out of work.

More than 1,400 additional unemployment benefit claims were recorded in West Norfolk in April than in the previous month, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.



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