THE impact of coronavirus on people’s livelihoods has been laid bare by figures that show an increase of 34.6 per cent of people in Redditch claiming Universal Credit between March 12 and April 9.
The figures, from the Department of Work and Pensions, show that UC claimants in Redditch jumped by 1,574 up from 4,544 to 6,118 in just four weeks.
Incredibly the figures for Redditch are the best in the county.
Wychavon District, which covers Droitwich, Pershore and Evesham, saw the number of its claimants rocket by 70 per cent, rising from 3,597 to 6,116 in just four weeks – the highest in Worcestershire.
DWP spokesman for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Duncan Campbell said they were braced for another surge when the April figures come out.
“We’ve seen a huge rush of claimants in a short period of time and across the country we re-deployed around 10,000 backroom staff to the front office to make sure claimants were processed in time,” he said.
He put the huge increase in claimants in Wychavon down to losses in hospitality and tourism and a loss of manufacturing jobs.
The West Midlands average as a whole is closer to the Redditch total at 35 per cent.
Across the rest of Worcestershire, Bromsgrove District saw an increase in claimants of 61.9 per cent over the 28 days, rising from 2,641 to 4,277.
Malvern Hills also saw a surge, up 53.3 per cent from 2,189 to 3,356, while Worcester saw its number of claimants rise by 51.8 per cent from 4,011 to 6,090.
Mr Campbell said to help claimants the DWP had launched three new websites for job hunters, employers and to improve education/skills.
“Looking at job opportunities the bulk of them at the moment are in care, both health care and social care.
“We’ve small numbers coming through from construction and manufacturing and we’re anticipating more of the land based work like pick and pack to come in.”