Universal Credit help at highest ever

The number of people on Universal Credit in Sunderland is at its highest level ever, new figures show.

By Will Grimond
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 5:06 pm
Record numbers on Universal Credit.
Record numbers on Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a monthly payment available to those on low incomes or out of work and, although exact amounts depend on individual circumstances, is currently worth around £335 a month for a single person.

According to Department for Work and Pensions data from April 14, 31,413 people were receiving the benefit in the city – the highest number since the benefit was first rolled out in 2015.

According to the latest figures, from March, 39% of people on Universal Credit in Sunderland were in employment.

Figures also show that, in February, 42% of households receiving Universal Credit in the city were families with children - including 8,407 single-parent families.

Universal Credit has come under scrutiny in recent months, as the cost of living crisis has driven calls for the rate to be increased, or for it to be made more widely accessible.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity tackling poverty, has criticised the Government for not increasing the benefit in line with inflation.

Iain Porter, senior advisor with the charity, said: “With inflation nearing double digits, benefits were only raised by 3.1%, their lowest in real terms in 40 years.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Universal Credit provides a vital safety net to 5.6 million people and we want everyone to get the support to which they’re entitled.

“We recognise the pressures on the cost of living and are doing what we can, including spending £22bn to support people with energy bills and cut fuel duty."