Applications for Universal Credit are on the rise – and Aberdeen charities say they are doing their best to support those affected.
Although local figures are not yet available for the north-east of Scotland, it emerged this week that 950,000 people in the UK have successfully applied for the benefit since Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to stay at home on March 16.
The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed the number of claims and calls received has risen and staff are working hard to contact all applicants.
Aberdeen Cyrenians believes around 5,000 of these applications have been made by residents struggling to cope during the coronavirus pandemic in Aberdeenshire.
The charity recently joined forces with CFINE, Social Bite and Aberdeen Foyer to form a partnership called AC2U, which will help vulnerable people get access to food during the lockdown.
The Evening Express and Original 106 FM have backed the campaign.
Mike Burns, chief executive of Aberdeen Cyrenians, said: “Around 950,000 people in the UK have applied, which is up from 100,000 in the normal two-week period. That’s an awful lot of people. It currently takes six weeks for people to get Universal Credit benefits.
“The concern is whether these people are able to support their families when we are in the middle of a national crisis which is having a massive impact on people’s abilities to get by.
“It’s about making sure we can support people. We had a lot of calls about food and we’re getting more and more inquiries relating to welfare issues, social isolation and how to stay in touch with people.”
A spokeswoman for CFINE added: “We can confirm that calls are up and CFINE’s Safe team is working tirelessly to maintain a support service for those who are struggling during these uncertain times.”
UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey said: “Universal Credit is delivering in these unprecedented times.
“With such a huge increase in claims there are pressures on our services, but the system is standing up well to these and our dedicated staff are working flat out to get people the support they need.”
How to donate
- Online cash donations – https://app.donorfy.com/donate/3YSBIBZ3Z8/Coronavirusappeal
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/donate/638083983420648/
- Phone – text ‘AC2U’ to 70085 to donate £5 Anyone able to supply food should email: ICanHelp@AC2U.org
- For the Amazon wishlist go to: http://amzn.eu/8sbJELp – please email ICanHelp@ac2u.org to notify when a purchase is made and advise of delivery estimation so staff are available to accept donations
- Shopping deliveries can be sent to 62 Summer Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1SD
To apply for assistance
Applications can be made through www.AC2U.org or 0300 303 0903 (option 8)