Claims for Universal Credit more than double in Bury St Edmunds and surrounding areas during pandemic
The number of people claiming Universal Credit has more than doubled in Bury St Edmunds and its surrounding towns and villages since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (July 16), the number of people claiming Universal Credit in West Suffolk in mid-March, just before lockdown, totalled 2,070.
The same figure for mid-Suffolk was 945.
The number of claimants rose sharply during the following month, jumping to 3,850 in April, 4,765 in May. The figure dropped slightly however by mid June, to 4,510.
In mid Suffolk, the figures are 1,780 claimants in April, 2,350 in May, levelling off in June to 2,235.
This compares with a national figure of 1,275,575 in March for the UK as a whole, 2,117,360 in April, 2,611,030 in June, and 2,625,475 by mid June.
July's figures are set to be released in mid-August.
The figures do however, include some workers who are not technically unemployed, but have been eligible to claim for instance if they have been furloughed on low incomes, or have not qualified for statutory sick pay (SSP).
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “Universal credit was designed as a wrap around benefit and is for both those in work and looking for work.
"Given the unprecedented times that we have been through and the uncertainty in the employment market the system has stood up well in order to help people.
"I have spoken to the chamber of commerce and individual businesses about the current economic climate and to individuals looking for employment.
"I will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that nobody falls through the net.”
* You can read more on the local jobs market and how recruiters have been coping with a huge influx of applications in Friday's Bury Free Press (July 31 edition)