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Gedling borough has seen an increase in the number of in-work Universal Credit (UC) claimants since the pandemic began, data shows. 

Analysis of UC claims data has shown that from February 2020 to October 2020, there was a 5% increase in claims from people in employment in the area. 

This increase is in line with that which has been seen in every region in the country, with the highest increase being 9% in East Lindsey and no areas seeing a decrease. 

Experts said many UC claims since the beginning of the pandemic were from furloughed workers, those in low-wage jobs or on zero-hour contracts, drawing the benefit to top up incomes. 

Minesh Patel, principal policy manager at Citizens Advice UK, said: “We’ve definitely seen a rise  of people seeking advice on benefits while in some sort of work and I think that’s to do with the impact of this crisis. 

“Overnight, loads of people lost their job or saw a drop in their hours.  

“Our advisors are telling us a lot of the people coming to us are on the furlough scheme and need Universal Credit to top up.” 

The analysis comes as the government considers whether the £20 weekly increase in UC introduced at the start of the pandemic should be kept in place beyond 31 March. 

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Universal Credit has been a lifeline for millions affected by the pandemic and will play a vital role as we build back better to recover our record-breaking jobs market. 

“We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families, which is why we’re spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions and have introduced the £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months.” 

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of a working age on low income. It is paid every month in England and Wales and can be claimed when you are in or out of work. 

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity which researches poverty, says millions of households face an income loss equivalent to £1,040 a year, and that 500,000 more people will be driven into poverty. 

The government says it has made £280bn available to the most vulnerable families, and that additional help will be set out in the March budget. 

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