The number of people claiming Universal Credit in the north-east has risen by more than 80% in two months, new statistics show.
New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show more than 14,500 people in Aberdeen claimed in May as the impact of the Covid-19 crisis continues to be felt across the city.
The latest number is up 82% from March and a rise of 23% from April.
In Aberdeenshire the situation is similar, with 12,496 people signing on last month – an increase of more than 80% from March and almost 20% on April.
Combined, more than 27,000 people claimed Universal Credit across the two local authorities in May – 81.2% higher than the figure recorded in March, the last taken before lockdown began.
The rise between April and May in both areas is higher than the Scottish average of 17.9%.
Commenting on the statistics, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The impact of coronavirus is clearly seen in the figures and we can expect that to continue for some time.
“The UK Government is providing comprehensive coronavirus support packages to help people get through this unprecedented pandemic.
“These have saved nearly 800,000 jobs across Scotland, as well as helping people and businesses through VAT deferral, company loans and Universal Credit. This is in addition to the £3.8 billion package already given to Holyrood to help tackle the crisis.“
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North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said the region was facing particular difficulties as a result of a number of factors – including coronavirus.
He said: “Scotland now has the highest unemployment in Britain, and the increase in unemployment in recent weeks has been sharper in the north-east than across Scotland as a whole.
“The coronavirus crisis has hit jobs right across the UK, but the north-east faces a triple whammy because of the latest oil downturn and with the impact of Brexit likely to hit home next year.
“We need to see a real commitment from Government to protect and support sectors like energy, tourism, and food and drink, and we need an energy jobs taskforce to plan the future energy transition in the North Sea.”
Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn said: “The north-east is being hit hard by both covid-19 and the energy sector downturn so this rise is not unforeseen but does remain deeply concerning.
“We’ve seen the Scottish Government take decisive action by investing £62 million into the north-east to support the energy sector in its push to create new sustainable jobs – what we need now is for the UK Government to actually deliver on similar promises.”