A think tank has warned that the UK is in the midst of an unemployment crisis as 477,000 new Universal Credit (UC) claims are made in nine days.
Responding to the disclosure of new figures by the Department for Work and Pensions, the Resolution Foundation says that this rate of new UC claims represents an increase of over 500% compared to the same period last year.
The think tank warns that this increase ‘dwarfs’ the increases to Jobseeker’s Allowance at the height of the financial crisis, in which weekly increases in new starts peaked at 78%.
The number of new claims to UC in the past nine days, they added, is greater than the successful claims made to JSA in any entire month during the financial crisis.
‘The unprecedented surge in new Universal Credit claims shows that the UK is already in the midst of an unemployment crisis,’ said Karl Handscomb, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation.
‘The increase in claims is putting huge pressure on our social security system, and is driven by a huge hit to family incomes.
‘The Government was right to increase the generosity of the benefits system last week. It now needs to ensure the resources are there so that claims are processed quickly, and people receive support as soon as possible.’
The Resolution Foundation also says that the scale and duration of unemployment increases ‘remains very uncertain’.
They warned policy makers not to assume a repeat of the ‘smaller-than-expected’ increase in unemployment that was seen during the financial crisis.