The number of households claiming universal credit benefits in the north-east has almost trebled in the past year.
New data released by the Department of Work and Pensions shows that there were 12,002 households receiving the benefit in Aberdeen in May 2020, compared with 4,094 in May last year.
There was also a huge increase in Aberdeenshire.
In May 2020, there was 9,827 households claiming universal credit, compared with 3,760 in May 2019.
The largest increase was recorded between March and May – with 2,650 more claimants in the city and 3, 627 in Aberdeenshire.
Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said: “Universal Credit is an indispensable safety net for those who need it and with 96% of people receiving their payment in full and on time it has proved itself as an agile, reliable system that can stand up to even the toughest of tests.
“I continue to urge people who think they may be eligible, whether they are in work or unemployed, to check and see what they could be entitled to.
“Details of what support you may be able to get, as well as links to benefits calculators, are available on understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk.”
The number of new universal credit applications are now dropping across the north-east.
Figures released by the DWP from May 21 to July 9 this year generally show a drop in new claims.
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In the week beginning May 21, there was 773 applications across all AB postcodes, compared with 619 week beginning May 28, and 600 in the week of June 4.
The week of June 11 saw a further decrease to 540, and June 18 a further drop to 500.
The latest figures available, for the week commencing July 9, show there had been 464 claims made.
The DWP has encouraged people across the north-east to check if they are eligible for in-work support because it is also available for those on a low income, as well as those out of work.
Those who could be eligible include residents who earn £7,350 or less a year, with the amount received dependent on how many people are in the household.
For example, a couple living together with two children earning £7,350 a year could get around £12,600 in Universal Credit, while a single parent with one child earning £7,350 could get around £7,500 in Universal Credit.
In addition to this, other assistance is available such as child benefit, discretionary housing payments, a reduction in council tax and free school meals, as well as cold weather payments.
The DWP has said the best way to access these benefits is to apply for universal credit.
Mr Quince added: “Universal credit is providing an invaluable safety net for people who need it, and I want to make sure no-one is missing out on the support they’re entitled to.”