More than a third of all Universal Credit claims made since start of pandemic

Sign outside DWP offices
Support us and go ad-free

More than a third of claims made since Universal Credit was introduced have been made during the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

Claimants

There were 4.5 million claims for the benefit between 13 March 2020 and 14 January this year, according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

This represents 39% of the 11.4 million claims made since Universal Credit was introduced in April 2013.

The latest quarterly figures take the total number of people on UC to 6 million as of 14 January – a 98% rise from 12 March 2020.

The latest available figures show there were 4.9 million households on Universal Credit in November 2020  – up 2.2 million since March.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Of these, 85% (4.2 million) received a payment.

Children

There has also been a rise in the proportion of households without children which are receiving payments.

Some 59% of households receiving Universal Credit payments were households without children in November 2020, up from 54% in March.

Claims have largely made a return to pre-pandemic levels following a spike at the beginning of the pandemic, with two weeks in spring seeing 10 times as many claims as usual. The DWP said claims also rose in the weeks coinciding with the start of lockdowns in November and January.

People aged 20 to 24 and the over-40s on Universal Credit have increased in proportion since the start of the crisis.

“Uncertainty”

Writing on 21 February, Canary journalist Steve Topple reported that even with the £20 uplift, Universal Credit is still providing “inadequate” support:

The Canary has been covering Universal Credit during the pandemic. A lot of debate has been about the £20 a week uplift. In April 2020, the DWP increased the rate of Universal Credit by this amount. But ever since, uncertainty has existed over what will happen this April. If the Tories end the increase, people will see the DWP cut £20 per week from their money. Then, on Friday 19 February, ITV News reported that the Tories would keep the uplift. But this would only be for another six months.

This won’t solve several basic issues; not least destitution. For example, for around 1.5 million claimants of things like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the government hasn’t given any extra support at all during the pandemic. Also, a survey of Universal Credit claimants found the £20 uplift to be “inadequate” anyway. For example, over 50% of new claimants said they either:

  • Struggled with affording food.
  • Couldn’t afford fresh fruit and veg.
  • Fell behind on their housing costs.
  • Couldn’t keep up with bills/debts.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us