Nearly a million universal credit claims in past fortnight

As the coronavirus pandemic has worsened, nearly a million people have applied for universal credit benefits in the past fortnight.

The Department for Work and Pensions, which would normally expect 100,000 claims in a two week period, said that 950,000 successful applications for the payment were made between 16 March, when people were advised to work from home, and the end of the month.

The figures have been labelled as ‘truly shocking’ by the Labour Party, who stressed that the government ‘must wake up and take action’ to help the millions of those at risk of losing their jobs and the self-employed not covered by government hardship schemes.

Universal credit is a consolidated monthly payment for those of working-age. In October 2019, there were 2.6 million universal credit claimants - just over a third of whom were in work.

The government maintains that the benefit system is still ‘delivering’ despite the massive increase in demand.