Nearly a million people have successfully applied for Universal Credit in the last fortnight, as individuals rush to secure welfare support as the coronavirus lockdown begins to bite.
Official figures show that 950,000 people applied for the main income support benefit between 16 and 31 March.
That compares to the usual 100,000 applicants that ask for the benefit in any given two-week period, the Guardian reports.
The eye-watering figure comes despite the government’s job support schemes – widely received as generous by business trade associations and trade unions – offering 80% of earnings to employees and the self-employed who cannot work.
The number of applicants rose sharply as soon as Prime Minister Boris John instructed the country to “stay at home” apart from a small number of essential reasons.
It is thought that the increase in benefits claimants is due to a fall in income for many – as well as a rise in unemployment – as firms go bust or lay off staff.
During the last recession, which was triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, applicants for jobseeker’s allowance, then the main welfare benefit, rose from 46,000 in February 2008 to 82,000 a year later, an increase of 78%.
Coronavirus has resulted in a rise of more than 500%, from 60,000 to 371,000 claims a week.