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Universal credit claimant numbers soar in Leeds North West as Govt coronavirus measures questioned

Alex Sobel MP has questioned the effectiveness of the Government coronavirus response as numbers published this morning show a 235% increase in Universal Credit claimants in Leeds North West from this time last year.

The April 2020 figures for the unadjusted claimant count have been published today, which show the number of people who were claiming unemployment related benefits. This includes those who were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or were claiming Universal Credit and are required to seek work.

Leeds North West has 1905 actual claimants – 3.2% of the working age population. This is more than double the number of same month in the previous year which stood at 810. The leap is higher still for those aged between 18 and 24 who are seeing a 277% jump from last year.

The MP for Leeds North West has urged caution with the numbers as they do not take into account the roll out of Universal Credit but he does say the numbers should be ‘of great concern’ to the Government.

He said, “These numbers are stark and each one represents individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet. I have been very supportive of the furlough and self-employed schemes which are helping a great many people, but there are many who are falling through the gaps and I hear from them every day.

This could include seasonal workers, workers who have recently changed employers or those who’s employers have chosen not to take up the schemes. The 18-24 numbers are particularly concerning as they are represented much more highly in occasional, casual or zero-hours jobs.

If the Government do not get this right, we face a lost generation of young people who have been cast adrift in the midst of this crisis. Whilst these numbers do not account for UC rollout, they will be of great concern to my constituents and should be of great concern to the Government. ”

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