More seeking Universal Credit help

Universal Credit recipient numbers rise.Universal Credit recipient numbers rise.
Universal Credit recipient numbers rise.
The number of people on Universal Credit in Northumberland is at its highest level for nearly a year, new figures show.

Universal Credit is a monthly payment available to those on low incomes or out of work and, although exact amounts depend on individual circumstances, is currently worth around £335 a month for a single person.

According to Department for Work and Pensions data from April 14, 24,244 people were receiving the benefit in Northumberland – the highest number since July.

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According to the latest figures, from March, 42% of people on Universal Credit in the area were in employment.

Figures also show that, in February, 43% of households receiving Universal Credit in the area were families with children - including 6,293 single-parent families.

Universal Credit has come under scrutiny in recent months, as the cost of living crisis has driven calls for the rate to be increased, or for it to be made more widely accessible.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity tackling poverty, has criticised the Government for not increasing the benefit in line with inflation.

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Iain Porter, senior advisor with the charity, said: “With inflation nearing double digits, benefits were only raised by 3.1%, their lowest in real terms in 40 years.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Universal Credit provides a vital safety net to 5.6 million people and we want everyone to get the support to which they’re entitled.

“We recognise the pressures on the cost of living and are doing what we can, including spending £22bn to support people with energy bills and cut fuel duty."