MORE people are claiming Universal Credit in Caerphilly county borough than ever before, new figures have shown.

Meanwhile the numbers of people claiming in other parts of Gwent are at their highest in several months.

The rising cost of living has prompted fresh calls for Boris Johnson's government to top up payments and support people struggling to pay for everyday essentials - but, while Rishi Sunak has announced some support for Universal Credit recipients, ministers have so far resisted calls to reintroduce a pandemic-era £20 weekly uplift.

Universal Credit is a monthly benefit payment available to those on low incomes and those out of work. The exact amount varies depending on individual circumstances, but it is currently worth around £335 a month for a single person aged over 25.

Around 5.6 million people are currently receiving some form of Universal Credit payment in Wales, England and Scotland - including more than 54,000 across Gwent.

But the UK Government's use of the system has come under scrutiny in recent months, as the rising cost of basic household goods and energy has driven some to call for the rate to be increased, or for it to be made more widely accessible.

Earlier this week, treasury minister Simon Clarke ruled out reinstating the £20-a-week uplift to the benefit, which was temporarily introduced during the pandemic - a policy recently called for by other Conservative MPs, as well opposition parties and the Welsh Government.


Across Gwent, more than 40 per cent of households receiving Universal Credit are families with children.

Using population estimates and Universal Credit data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), analysis shows Newport (10.9 per cent) and Blaenau Gwent (10.8 per cent) are the parts of Wales with the highest proportion of residents claiming the benefit.

They are followed by Torfaen (10.5 per cent), Caerphilly county borough (nine per cent) and Monmouthshire (5.3 per cent).

But even though Monmouthshire is generally one of the least deprived areas of Wales, the number of people claiming Universal Credit there has hit its highest point for six months.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity tackling poverty in the UK, has criticised the Government for not increasing the benefit in line with inflation.

A senior policy advisor at the charity, Iain Porter, said: “With inflation nearing double digits, benefits were only uprated by 3.1 per cent, their lowest in real terms in 40 years.

“We already know of parents skipping meals so their children can eat, families using a single lightbulb to limit electricity use, and cutting back on showers to save water.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Universal Credit provides a vital safety net to 5.6 million people and we want everyone to get the support to which they’re entitled.

“We recognise the pressures on the cost of living and we are doing what we can to help, including spending £22 billion across the next financial year to support people with energy bills and cut fuel duty."

On Thursday, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new package of support to tackle the rising cost of living.

The Welsh Government is also giving people in council tax bands A-D a one-off £150 payment, and all residents can also apply for help from a Wales-wide discretionary fund if they need extra support.

  • Additional reporting by Will Grimond, data reporter.

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