In the South Shields Parliamentary constituency, 9,259 households were claiming Universal Credit (UC) in February after being transferred from older benefits, such as Employment Allowance, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance – with an estimated 4,725 (34%) remaining on the old system, according to House of Commons library figures.
In the Jarrow constituency, 7,177 were claiming Universal Credit – with an estimated 3,911 (35%) remaining on the old system.
Debt charity StepChange said many claimants are still being pushed into hardship by having to wait more than a month for their first UC payment after migrating from older benefits.
The charity says moving to UC – which rolls six means-tested benefit payments into one monthly deposit – is challenging because new claimants must wait five weeks for their first payment, meaning some people need an advance, while others can be pushed into debt.
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Ed McDonagh, StepChange senior public policy advocate, said: "Overall, UC can work to support people, but it also has features that can cause real hardship and can actually worsen people’s debt."
Nationally, 4.8 million households were claiming UC in February – 66% of the total number receiving benefits – leaving 34% on legacy benefits despite the rollout starting in 2013 and due to be complete by 2024.
In his spring statement, Mr Sunak announced £12m would be provided to reduce tax credit error and fraud – “in turn” supporting a smoother transition to UC.