Unprecedented Increase in Universal Credit Take-Up in The Highlands.
Universal Credit statistics, recently published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), highlight the devastating financial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on residents, communities and businesses in the Highlands.
DWP’s published data reveals there was almost a 75% increase in the number of Universal Credit claimants throughout Highland when comparing take-up at March 2020 with the position in December 2020.
Whilst the number of people claiming Universal Credit in all areas of Highland have increased significantly, DWP report that a staggering 49 out of the 56 areas in Highland have increased by 50% or more.
In addition, 19 areas have experienced increased staggering take-up levels in excess of 100%.
The largest increase has been experienced in Skye North West with an increase of 185%. Meanwhile, Skye North East; Ross and Cromarty South West; Skye South; Lochaber West; Ross and Cromarty North West and Sutherland North and West experienced similar increases, ranging from 134% to 153%.
Universal Credit is a benefit which was first introduced by DWP to Inverness Jobcentre in 2013.
It has since been rolled out to all Highland Jobcentres and can be claimed by those who are unemployed or to provide top-up amounts for those on low incomes.
These Universal Credit figures illustrate that some 8,500 individuals within Highland faced unemployment or a reduction in earnings during December 2020.
Highland Council Depute Leader, and Chair of the Recovery Board, Cllr Alasdair Christie, said:
“These figures paint a very sobering picture and quite clearly illustrate the catastrophic impact that the pandemic is having within Highland communities, which of course impacts local spend and therefore our local businesses.
“This scale of increase in the take-up of Universal Credit simply hasn’t been seen before and demonstrates just how severe the financial situation is for many Highland residents.
“The fact that more than a third of the 56 geographical areas within Highland are experiencing such eye-watering increases of more than 100% in the number of Universal Credit claimants, is a real cause for concern and underlines the disproportionate financial impact of COVID-19 for an increasing number of our citizens.
“The Council’s Welfare Support Team and Citizens Advice are supporting an increasing number of households to claim all the financial support that is available to them, including the local scheme recently launched by the Council to reduce fuel bills.
“No-one should suffer in silence.
“My advice is to contact the Council’s Welfare Support Team on 0800 090 1004 or to contact your local Citizens Advice Bureaux to access the expert advice and support that is available.”
|DWP Published Universal Credit Stats: movement in take-up|
No of claimants
No of claimants
|% change since March|
|Skye North West||64||183||185.94%|
|Sutherland North and West||96||243||153.13%|
|Ross and Cromarty North West||100||246||146.00%|
|Ross and Cromarty South West||80||189||136.25%|
|Skye North East||148||347||134.46%|
|Badenoch and Strathspey South||118||267||126.27%|
|Badenoch and Strathspey North||137||303||121.17%|
|Ross and Cromarty East||82||181||120.73%|
|Inverness East Rural||167||364||117.96%|
|Badenoch and Strathspey Central||195||421||115.90%|
|Fort William South||313||654||108.95%|
|Lochaber East and North||173||360||108.09%|
|Caithness North East||95||190||100.00%|
|Black Isle North||89||176||97.75%|
|Inverness Crown and Haugh||143||279||95.10%|
|Inverness Culloden and Balloch||149||288||93.29%|
|Inverness Lochardil and Holm Mains||150||289||92.67%|
|Fort William North||198||361||82.32%|
|Ross and Cromarty Central||123||218||77.24%|
|Black Isle South||198||336||69.70%|
|Muir of Ord||176||297||68.75%|
|Inverness West Rural||274||449||63.87%|
|Inverness Kinmylies and South West||264||413||56.44%|
|Inverness Ballifeary and Dalneigh||435||667||53.33%|
|Inverness Central, Raigmore and Longman||413||619||49.88%|
|Caithness North West||172||255||48.26%|