More seeking Universal Credit help

The number of people on Universal Credit in South Tyneside is at its highest level since August, new figures show.

Universal Credit recipient numbers rise.
Universal Credit recipient numbers rise.

Universal Credit is a monthly payment available to those on low incomes or out of work and, although exact amounts depend on individual circumstances, is currently worth around £335 a month for a single person.

According to Department for Work and Pensions data from April 14, 17,482 people were receiving the benefit in South Tyneside – the highest number since August.

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According to the latest figures, from March, 37% of people on Universal Credit in South Tyneside were in employment.

Figures also show that, in February, 42% of households receiving Universal Credit in the borough were families with children - including 4,802 single-parent families.

Universal Credit has come under scrutiny in recent months, as the cost of living crisis has driven calls for the rate to be increased, or for it to be made more widely accessible.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity tackling poverty, has criticised the Government for not increasing the benefit in line with inflation.

Iain Porter, senior advisor with the charity, said: “With inflation nearing double digits, benefits were only raised by 3.1%, their lowest in real terms in 40 years.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Universal Credit provides a vital safety net to 5.6 million people and we want everyone to get the support to which they’re entitled.

“We recognise the pressures on the cost of living and are doing what we can, including spending £22bn to support people with energy bills and cut fuel duty."