Universal Credit claims more than double in Islington to over 33,000

Islington Town Hall

Islington Town Hall - Credit: Ken Mears 

The number of people claiming Universal Credit in Islington is continuing to rise as the economic impact of the pandemic unfolds.

The latest claims count, taken on January 11, was 33,728 – a 158 per cent increase on the figure of 13,356 from March last year.

An update from Town Hall chief executive Linzi Roberts-Egan showed there were 415 self-isolation support payments of £500 made to those unable to work and losing income since the borough started the scheme in September 2020.

The £877,000 Covid winter grant is currently being distributed to residents to help with food and utility costs.

Ms Roberts-Egan said: “The council continues to provide a robust response to the pandemic, despite the changing and uncertain landscape.

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“[We] will continue to support the roll-out of the vaccination programme including taking proactive steps to address vaccination hesitancy within the community.

“As the borough tentatively moves out of lockdown, the council will continue to support residents and staff accordingly.”

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According to the latest budget monitoring forecast for 2020/21, the council itself faces a total Covid-related budget pressure of around £52m, made up of £16m in additional costs and £36m in income losses.

Grant funding from the government set against this amounts to £26m, with the Town Hall assuming it will receive compensation of £16m from Whitehall’s sales, fees and charges loss scheme and £2m from the tax guarantee scheme.

It leaves a net Covid-related funding gap of approximately £8m in the current financial year.

Ms Roberts-Egan added: “Rather than a one-off event that the council’s budget is recovering from, it is expected that Covid will continue to have a significant, currently unquantifiable, impact on the council’s medium-term budget over and above the amount covered by the government’s Covid support package announced to date."

According to the most recent update, Islington saw 156 new cases of coronavirus from February 8 to 14 - a drop from 288 the week before.

The rate per 100,000 people of weekly cases also dropped in the same period, from 118.8 to 64.3 across all age groups.

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