Big increase in universal credit claims in Armagh

Michael Scott

Reporter:

Michael Scott

Email:

michael.scott@ulstergazette.co.uk

THE impact of the Coronavirus has resulted in the number of claims for Universal Credit in Armagh spiralling to 3,790.

The total number of people claiming at the city’s Jobs and Benefits Office as of the week ending April 26, is an increase of 1,640 on the number of claims made on March 1.

Meanwhile in neighbouring Newry there has been an increase of 3,000 from 6020, while in Portadown there was a jump from 2,080 to 3,350.

Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh, Mickey Brady said the rise is “not surprising” given the huge economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Many of these new claimants will be people who live in the north but work in the south and have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 and have been unable to avail of the protections put in place in the south, despite paying taxes there,” he said.

“They have been left behind by the caretaker Irish government.

“We must ensure that when we come out of lockdown and we rebuild the economy that it is done on an all Ireland basis and we create an economy that supports, values and resources those most in need.”

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has said the drastic increase in the number of claims for Universal Credit tells the truth about the lockdown of our economy.

Mr McNulty said, “The spike in applications for Universal Credit is not surprising but it is a symptom of the problems people and communities are facing.

“Many have lost their jobs, either temporarily or permanently, and they don’t know what will come in the months ahead.

“Universal Credit is a complex and cruel benefit. Whilst there are high numbers in receipt of the benefit now, there may be many more to come when the furlough scheme ends and when businesses begin to open up again. We need to be braced for what might yet be worse to come.”

The amount of Universal Credit you can get depends on your circumstances, including your income and how many children you have.

Universal Credit is a payment for people over 18 but under State Pension age who are on a low income or out of work. It includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, and financial support for people with disabilities, carers and people too ill to work.

A single person under the age of 25 will receive a monthly standard allowance of £347.72 while, for a single person over the age of 25, the figure is £409.

Extra monthly amounts can also be added.

For example, a couple with a first child born before April 6, 2017, receives an additional £277.08.

If you are a person with a disability the extra monthly amount of £160.20 can be claimed.

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