February 10, 2021 10.44 am This story is over 16 months old

Universal credit claims doubled in Lincolnshire during pandemic year

Employment rates dropped in all but three districts

Some areas of Lincolnshire saw universal credit claims more than double last year.

Department for Work and Pension figures being presented to the City of Lincoln Council on Tuesday show that by December 2020 there were 58,563 claimants in Lincolnshire, up 105.3% from the same month in 2019.

The report to the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee also shows that in every district but Lincoln and South Kesteven employment rates dropped from July 2019 to September 2020.

Nationally, the claimant count increased from 2,730,575 to 5,911,783 –  rise of 116.5%.

The report says the data “is likely to include workers furloughed as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, who are still classed as employed.”

The Sleaford Job Centre saw the highest percentage rise at 142.54%, with claimants increasing from 1,455 to 3,529.

Lincoln was the area with the highest number of claimants, rising by 103% from 8,852 to 17,973.

Meanwhile the job centre which dealt with the least number is Louth with 2,549 claimants, still a rise of 101.66% on December 2019’s 1,264 figure.

Data on Universal Credit Claimants across Lincolnshire, Rutland and Nottinghamshire being presented to councillors next week.

The report before councillors says the Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland region as a whole was slightly below the national average in its month-on-month increase, but had generally followed a similar trend.

“It is worth noting that claims to Universal Credit were [already] rising steadily in line with the national trend,” it said

“This is due to ‘natural migration’ where people in receipt of legacy benefits gradually move onto Universal Credit as their circumstances change.”

Between July last year and September 2020 employment rates across most areas of Lincolnshire dropped, with West Lindsey District Council seeing a 4.4% decrease.

However, East Lindsey District Council’s employment rate saw rates move from 61.6% to 66.3%, a jump of 4.7%.

Lincoln also saw employment rates rise by 2% and South Kesteven an increase of 1%.

Data on Employment Rates across Lincolnshire, Rutland and Nottinghamshire being presented to councillors next week.

The report said the biggest month on month growth for Universal Credit was in the over 50 age group.

However, it also noted that youth unemployment had been steadily rising at all levels since November 2018 and was now higher than at any point during the financial crisis in 2008 — nearly at 1 million nationally.

Other key notes from the report showed that across the Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland area as a whole, 7,000 fewer disabled people were in work compared to the last quarter, while Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic (BAME) employment had increased against the trend.

The gap between men and women employment rates across the region increased by 0.9% in the three months to September 2020, as 5.19% more women claim Universal Credit than men, compared to 3.83% nationally.