Coronavirus: Universal Credit claims rise by 90% in NI

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

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image captionThe big jump in claims was as a result of the restrictions imposed to tackle the pandemic.

The number of households in Northern Ireland claiming Universal Credit (UC) rose by almost 90% between February and May.

UC is the main out-of-work benefit but is also paid to some low earning workers.

The big jump in claims was as a result of the restrictions imposed to tackle the pandemic.

In February, there were just under 60,000 households claiming UC which rose to almost 109,000 by May.

Universal Credit was fully rolled out in Northern Ireland at the end of 2018.

Since then, the number of new claims had been steady at an average of around 7,000 per month.

However, in March the number of new claims surged to more than 35,000.

In April, new claims were 20,560 before falling back to just over 10,000 in May.

Of the 127,310 individual claimants on UC in May 38% (48,360) were in the "searching for work" conditionality regime, indicating that they were unemployed.

Around 30% of claimants were in work, with the rest either having no work requirement or preparing to look for work.

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