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Coronavirus: New figures show increase in Universal Credit claims across East London between April and May

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 June 2020

The latest Universal Credit figures give a constituency breakdown for the number of claims made in April and May. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

The latest Universal Credit figures give a constituency breakdown for the number of claims made in April and May. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The number of universal credit claimants rose across east London between April and May, according to the latest figures from the department of work and pensions (DWP).

Increases in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering largely aligned with those seen regionally and nationally.

The biggest surge — both by number and percentage — was in Newham, where an additional 16,189 people applied for universal credit between April 9 and May 14, representing a jump of 62.9 per cent.

Though the increase is unsurprising, this high percentage is not compatible with regional and national patterns.

In London, applications went up by 43 pc during this period (from 576,043 to 823,971), and 26.6 pc across England overall.

Notably, all five boroughs experienced percentage increases in excess of that recorded across England, reflecting fears over the London labour market.

The smallest percentage increase was found in Tower Hamlets, where the further 8,084 applications made reflected a 29.1 pc hike.

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This brought the borough’s total to 35,821, not far behind neighbours Newham.

Havering recorded the smallest numerical increase, with 5,061 additional applications taking its May total to 20,112.

Because of its comparatively modest April numbers, this still equalled an increase of over one third (33.6 pc).

Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge recorded broadly similar claimant numbers for May 14, with 26,468 and 27,232 respectively.

For the former, this May total marked a 46.4 pc surge; Redbridge’s claimant numbers went up by 38.3 pc.

Though these increases are worrying, Kay Pegler, a customer service leader at the DWP, says that “the focus has now shifted to the labour market”.

Romford-based Kay explained that the rush of applications appears to have now passed, with her team now concentrating on finding jobs for people.

There are concerns that upcoming changes to the furlough scheme may lead to a glut of new applications, but Kay says that the department’s focus remains on getting people ready for work: “We are helping with CVs, putting on online workshops, and ensuring people stay connected using the journal function on their universal credit account.”


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