Nearly one million Londoners claiming Universal Credit, according to government estimate

Nearly one million Londoners claiming Universal Credit, according to government estimate

Close to one million Londoners were claiming Universal Credit (UC) as of early September, of whom approximately 40 per cent were in some form employment, according to a government estimate.

The experiment statistics, gathered by the Department for Work and Pensions, find that 991,711 Londoners were claimants at that time – roughly five weeks ago – of whom 389,179 had jobs.

The UC findings are among a range of labour market figures released today, which also show that only London and Scotland now have fewer employees on payrolls than before the start of the pandemic, with London the furthest behind, though the capital did see the largest increase between August and September.

London’s employment rate Londoners aged 16 and older for June, July and August 2021 is put at 74.9 per cent in the new statistics, which is nearly one per cent lower than in the same three months of 2020.

The unemployment rate estimate for the same three months was the UK’s highest at 5.8 per cent, which is half of one percent more than for the same three months of 2020. Unemployment is defined as people without a job who have been “actively seeking work” within the previous four weeks and available to start work with two. At the same time the average number of hours worked per week in London was also the UK’s highest, at 31.9.

Labour’s London Assembly spokesperson on the economy, Marina Ahmad, said the UC data indicate what she called “the scale of the government’s callous and short-sighted cut to Universal Credit on low-income Londoners”. A £20 per week boost to UC, introduced at the start of the pandemic, ended on 6 October.

Ahmad described the change as coming at “the worst possible time of rising energy bills and food prices and the furlough scheme ending”, with National Insurance contributions still to come. “You can’t build an economy recovery on levelling down almost one million Londoners and millions more across the rest of the country,” she said.

Nick Bowes, chief executive of Centre for London, described Londoners as facing a “triple threat this autumn as unemployment continues to be the highest in the country just as the cut to Universal Credit and higher energy prices begin to bite.” He said the fall in payrolled employees in the capital showed that “for many Londoners ‘recovery’ is still a distant dream.”

Bowes also urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to “turbocharge he city’s economy and ensure that Londoners are supported into new jobs if we are to avoid high unemployment levels becoming entrenched.”

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