The number of people claiming Universal Credit and searching for work has gone up in all ten Greater Manchester boroughs, and more than doubled in some.
The ‘alternative claimant count’ (which shows those applying for Universal Credit who are searching for work) for July 2020 is much higher than it was in July 2019.
A total of 146,260 people are now claiming the benefit across the city-region.
The total population of Greater Manchester is just over 2.8 million, so that means around 5.2pc of residents are now on Universal Credit.
While the reason for the rise has not been explicitly indicated by the Department for Work and Pensions, its top minister highlighted the impact of the current pandemic.
The borough which has seen the highest percentage increase in claimants from a year ago is Stockport, with its total number more than doubling – rising by 6,432, or a 135pc increase.
The next highest percentage rise was in Trafford, which also saw a doubling of claimants with 4,374 new people signing on, or a 121pc rise in 12 months.
But while proportional rises show Stockport and Trafford coming out on top, in terms of the number of individual sign ons, Manchester saw the biggest spike with 17,533 new people applying for Universal Credit in July 2020.
That represents a 99pc increase for the city compared to this time last year.
For all boroughs, the increases were as follows:
- Bolton: total number of claimants 15,900, up 7,296 or 85pc on last year
- Bury: total claimants 8,730, up 4,547 or 109pc on last year
- Manchester: total claimants 35,200, up 17,533 or 99pc on last year
- Oldham: total claimants 13,942, up 6,887 or 98pc on last year
- Rochdale: total claimants 12,474, up 6,101 or 96pc on last year
- Salford: total claimants 14,474, up 7,485 or 107pc on last year
- Stockport: total claimants 11,181, up 6,432 or 135pc on last year
- Tameside: total claimants 11,499, up 5,911 or 106pc on last year
- Trafford: total claimants 8,003, up 4,374 or 121pc on last year
- Wigan: total claimants 14,857, up 7,398 or 99pc on last year.
The latest Universal Credit statistics released today (August 11) show 5.6m people on Universal Credit on July 9, 2020, nationally, an increase of two per cent from the month before.
From March – when the pandemic began – to June, there were 2.5m new household claims for Universal Credit across the UK.
The DWP made it clear, however, that the number of people claiming Universal Credit does not necessarily indicate a corresponding rise in unemployment.
The department said the benefit is designed to adapt to people’s changing circumstances and it can act to top up incomes if earnings drop, so not every new claimant in Greater Manchester will have lost their job or be fully unemployed.
Across the North West, the number of people employed stands at 3.54 million, which is up 8,000 since April 2020 and up 63,000 on this time last year.
The number of people unemployed in the region stands at 140,000 – down 19,000 since April and down 11,000 on July 2019.
The North West’s current unemployment rate is 3.8pc, which is only slightly lower than the UK average of 3.9pc.
Minister for Employment Mims Davies said: “Today’s figures show more of the impact the virus is having on our labour market and many people will be understandably concerned about the future – which is why we’ve set out our Plan for Jobs, to protect, create and support jobs as we build back our economy.
“We’ve already protected more than 9.5m jobs throughout this period with the furlough scheme, supported more than two million self-employed people and paid out billions in loans and grants to thousands of businesses. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is supporting thousands of jobs in the hospitality sector, and the cut to stamp duty has led to a surge in house sales and a welcome boost to the economy.
“Looking to the future, next month we’re launching the £2bn Kickstart scheme to create thousands of high quality jobs for young people, increasing access to tailored job support by doubling the number of work coaches across the UK and we are boosting the Flexible Support Fund by £150m to provide localised employment support”.
For those who currently are unemployed, the North West Job Centres said: “Our Jobcentre work coaches are working hard to support all people claiming Universal Credit during these unprecedented times.
“If you’re looking for work, our job help website is a good place to start.
“Despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, there are still jobs out there. The new site will point you to who’s hiring now.
“You can also find hints and tips on applying for jobs if you haven’t done so for a while. And you can get some support to think about moving sectors.”
The website can be found here.
The government’s new Kickstart scheme is set to support young people out of unemployment as this financial dip takes hold and is to be rolled out later this year.
It is understood that the North West Job Centres are prepared for the new scheme to begin and are ready to support anyone who finds themselves needing support.