Almost 9,000 people in Hartlepool are claiming Universal Credit
Almost 9,000 people in Hartlepool are now receiving the controversial new benefit Universal Credit.
Universal Credit, which is now available in every Jobcentre across the UK, replaces six previous benefits – income support; income-based jobseeker's allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; housing benefit; child tax credit and working tax credit with a single monthly payment.
The Government says it simplifies the benefits system.
It has been the subject of criticism from the outset, however, with reports of IT issues, massive overspends and administrative problems, as well as claimants struggling to get by until their first payment arrives.
Hartlepool was one of the first places Universal Credit was rolled out and new figures show it is being paid to 8,993 claimants in the town and almost 137,000 people across the North East.
Nationwide, more than a third of Universal Credit claimants are in work.
With the benefit now available in all Jobcentres, the number of people on Universal Credit will continue to rise naturally, and does not necessarily signify an increase in unemployment for the area.
Will Quince, Minister for Welfare Delivery, said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, delivering personalised sup port right across the North East and helping people find work.
“This week, the employment rate reached a joint-record high and the jobs market continues to go from strength to strength.”