BARROW has seen an increase in 900 residents using Universal Credit since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics.

According to the most recent figures, which date to September 10, there are 2,150 claiming Universal Credit in the region.

The figure is up from 945 from the same time last year and 900 from the 1,250 recorded by ONS on February 13 - the last date before the cornavirus pandemic started to grip the country.

Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, said: “I’m not surprised by these figures given the number of people who have taken up Universal Credit as a result of COVID.

“The Government has put an extra £9billion into Universal Credit during the pandemic, and taken measures like reducing the minimum income floor, to ensure that support is there for those who need it.”

ONS revealed a 138,000 surge in unemployment between June and August nationally- the largest increase since summer 2009.

This took the jobless total to a three-year high of 1.52 million, while the rate of unemployment jumped to 4.5%, from 4.1% in the previous three months.

It came as redundancies rose by a record 114,000 quarter-on-quarter to 227,000 as the coronavirus crisis claimed jobs across the economy.

There was a chink of light as real-time payroll data showed a 20,000 increase in the number of UK workers on company payrolls last month - the first since the lockdown in March. There was also a recovery in job vacancies, which leaped by a record 144,000 to 488,000 between July and September.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the Government’s Plan for Jobs would help protect employment and “ensure nobody is left without hope”.

Last week he unveiled new job support for businesses forced to close under new coronavirus restrictions, which will see the Government pay two-thirds of each employee’s salary - up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.