The second working paper in the series on Universal Credit in Glasgow by Policy Scotland researcher Dr Sarah Weakley.
Since the publication of the first Policy Scotland working paper on Universal Credit in Glasgow in July, the scale of the challenges faced by people on low incomes is becoming clearer. The UK is facing a labour market crisis that is unprecedented. Universal Credit (UC) figures are one way to understand who is at the sharpest end of this crisis and accessing the largest programme of means-tested assistance in the UK.
The data contained in the first working paper was only to early April 2020 – just three weeks into the UK lockdown period. Although that initial report contained the first large spike in UC claims and an increase in the caseload, a longer time horizon allows us to see how the UC caseload reflects those most in need in this extended recovery period. This paper updates figures to early July 2020 and highlights new areas of concern for policymakers and programmes serving people on low incomes.
- Glasgow’s UC caseload since the beginning of March has grown by 82% to just over 68,000 people – an increase of 31,000. Some will be accessing with the benefit system in this way for the first time.
- The largest groups of recipients are still between ages 25 and 54. Claims and starts for these populations have returned (for now) to almost pre-crisis levels.
- However, people under the age of 24 continue to flow onto UC at elevated levels. In Glasgow the number of young people starting on UC in July was still over double the number in March. Now, roughly 12% of young people in Glasgow are receiving UC.
- Nearly 10,000 people who came on to Universal Credit in Glasgow in the first month of the lockdown have not been able to leave the caseload, which points to a trend of longer durations on UC and extended periods of labour market disengagement.
- Before the crisis the UC system in Glasgow primarily served those not working and those who had no work requirements (primarily due to ill-health and caring responsibilities), which comprised 70% of the caseload. Now almost 70% of the caseload is comprised of the two groups (working/not working) subject to conditionality: 44,000 people in Glasgow.
- Another notable increase in the caseload over the period is among those currently working without requirements, who now make up 13% of the caseload rather than 8% of the caseload pre-crisis. This includes those who are currently on furlough. As the furlough scheme comes to an end in October a proportion of those currently connected to work and not required to look for a job receiving UC will flow into unemployment.
- Vacancies, while improving, are still at roughly 50% of pre-crisis levels. Paired with a larger caseload and the coming crisis of the furlough scheme ending, additional resources for employability, money advice and welfare rights advice services should be invested in now.
To cite this article: Weakley, Sarah, The COVID-19 Crisis and Universal Credit in Glasgow: September 2020, Policy Scotland, 10 September 2020, https://policyscotland.gla.ac.uk/covid-19-crisis-and-universal-credit-in-glasgow-september-2020
Written content is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.
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