THE impact of coronavirus on people’s livelihoods has been laid bare by figures that show a 70 per cent increase in the number of people claiming Universal Credit in Wychavon District between March 12 and April 9.
The figures, from the Department of Work and Pensions, show that UC claimants in Wychavon jumped by 2,519 from 3,597 to 6,116 in just four weeks – the highest in Worcestershire.
DWP spokesman for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Duncan Campbell said they were braced for another surge when the April figures come out.
“We’ve seen a huge rush of claimants in a short period of time and across the country we re-deployed around 10,000 backroom staff to the front office to make sure claimants were processed in time,” he said.
He put the huge increase in claimants in Wychavon down to losses in hospitality and tourism and a loss of manufacturing jobs.
The West Midlands average as a whole is half the Wychavon total, at 35 per cent.
Across the rest of Worcestershire, Bromsgrove District saw an increase in claimants of 61.9 per cent over the 28 days, rising from 2,641 to 4,277.
Malvern Hills also saw a surge, up 53.3 per cent from 2,189 to 3,356, while Worcester saw its number of claimants rise by 51.8 per cent from 4,011 to 6,090.
Redditch Borough, the area with the highest level of employment in the county, managed to keep its increase in claimants below the regional average, but even then it saw an extra 1,574 people claiming UC, up from 4,544 to 6,118, an increase of 34.60 per cent.
Mr Campbell said to help claimants the DWP had launched three new websites for job hunters, employers and to improve education/skills.
“Looking at job opportunities the bulk of them at the moment are in care, both health care and social care.
“We’ve small numbers coming through from construction and manufacturing and we’re anticipating more of the land based work like pick and pack to come in.”
Speaking on the surge of UC claimants, Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “Clearly these figures are behind on our current struggle but the impact of this global health emergency is now starting to show – and we’re doing everything we can to protect jobs and livelihoods.”