Growth of lowly paid jobs is blamed for new rise in benefit claims in Peterborough

A high number of lowly paid jobs is thought to be powering a continued rise in the number of Universal Credit claimants in Peterborough.

By Paul Grinnell
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 3:19 pm
Job Centre Plus.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) SUS-200204-154906001
Job Centre Plus. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) SUS-200204-154906001

Despite the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions prompting the creation of jobs as businesses reopen, the city’s Universal Credit claimant figures are remaining stubbornly high.

The latest figures show a higher than national rate of increase propelling the total number of claimants across the city to more than 27,000,

At the start of the pandemic in March last year there were 13,580 people claiming Universal Credit, which is paid to people on low incomes as well as those who are out of work or who cannot work.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

A Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: “I am surprised the number is still rising.

“The number of vacancies is very high and across the country, for the first time, there are one million vacancies.

“But it could well be that a good number of vacancies that people are taking in Peterborough are paid at the lower end of the pay scale.

“For instance jobs in warehousing, logistics, the care sector and food production.

“It means that while people are in work they are not earning enough, or have enough hours, to take them out of Universal Credit and they are still receiving some support or top up from Universal Credit.

He added: “There are many vacancies in hospitality but here we are seeing pay rise above the National Minimum Wage to £10, £12 or £15 an hour in order to fill the vacancies.”

He said: “The actual number of people with no earnings is continuing to fall month on month which reflects the increase in employment rates with more people in work.

“We are working hard to support these people to either increase the hours they work or gain new skills so they can increase their earnings potential.”

The latest DWP figures show that the number of people claiming Universal Credit in Peterborough rose by 398 to 27,205 over the four weeks to August 12

That is an increase of 1.5 per cent.

The rate of increase is greater than that for the East of England which saw the number of claimants go up by 2,760 people to 486,783 - up 0.6 per cent- and for England which saw a 0.7 per cent increase - up by 35,110 to 5,084,924 people.

Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said: “We continue to support millions of people around the country with Universal Credit.

“We know that the best route out of poverty is through work, and with more than one million vacancies, our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs – including 13,500 new work coaches – is ensuring those on Universal Credit who are able to can move into work or increase their hours.”