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26 August, 2020 Open access

Coronavirus pandemic has led to ‘huge increase’ in number of claims for universal credit in Northern Ireland

New Department for Communities statistics show that number of claims rose to peak of more than 35,000 in March 2020, a five-fold increase on average number prior to pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a 'huge increase' in the number of claims for universal credit in Northern Ireland, according to the Department for Communities.

In Universal Credit Statistics - May 2020, published today, the Department says that, while the number of claims remained steady at around 7,000 per month prior to the pandemic, March and April 2020 saw the number of claims increase to 35,440 and 20,560 respectively, with the number of claims in May 2020, at 10,070, still higher than previous levels.

The Department also comments that the 'huge increase' in claims was due to the restrictions that were introduced throughout Northern Ireland as a result of the pandemic, and says that the increase was not all necessarily due to unemployment since -

'On 20 March 2020, the government announced a temporary increase of £1,000 to the universal credit standard allowance for one year, increasing the amount of earnings a household could receive before their universal cred it award is reduced to nil. Moreover, the self-employed who are temporarily without income due to the government’s ‘stay at home’ restrictions, and people and households with COVID-19 or following the government requirements to isolate and not eligible for statutory sick pay may also claim universal credit. People who are furloughed and on a low income may also qualify.'

Elsewhere the statistics show that during May 2020 -

For more information, see Universal Credit Statistics - May 2020 from communities-ni.gov.uk