Scotland sees more than 110,000 Universal Credit claims since coronavirus outbreak



Household claims for Universal Credit in Scotland have increased from an average of 20,000 per month in 2019 to over 110,000 between 1 March and 7 April, highlighting the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on people’s finances.

In response to the demand for Universal Credit, the Scottish Government, in partnership with the Citizens Advice network, is launching a new campaign to raise awareness of the financial support available to people.

The campaign will provide information and advice on issues including rent and mortgage payments, energy bills, council tax, and benefits people may be entitled to.

People will be able to access this advice online, by phone or by contacting their local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, cabinet secretary for social security and older people, said: “This huge increase in claims for Universal Credit demonstrates just how many people across the country are struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These are difficult and worrying times for everyone, with many people requiring financial support for the first time and even more pressure on those who were already struggling to make ends meet.

“It is welcome that people are claiming the support that they are entitled to from the DWP, and I would encourage people to look into what additional help is available. Even if you are not entitled to Universal Credit, there could be other assistance that you can access so it is worth checking.

“That’s why we’ve been working with the Citizens Advice network in Scotland to create this central source of information - with everything from guidance on benefits, right through to what you can do if you are worried about paying your mortgage or rent.”

Derek Mitchell, Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive, added: “The Citizens Advice network in Scotland is known for always being there to help and the support we give will be more important than ever to help people avoid getting into crisis. There may also be lots of people who have never used our services before and it’s crucial that they know our information and advice is there for them too.

“Our national network of Citizens Advice Bureaux is still operating for those who need it – if you have been financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help make sure you have access to all the income you are entitled to, as well as giving tailored advice about what’s on offer within local communities across Scotland.

“There’s increased demand for our advice on financial services, that’s why we’ve created dedicated COVID-19 content online so people get the information they need 24/7 and from the comfort of their own homes.

“We’ve also got a dedicated helpline for people who might not be able to access our services online.”

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