ALMOST 800 jobseekers in Wigan signed up to the new Universal Credit in the first four months of the benefit being rolled out in the borough.
A total of 790 people completed the application process and began receiving the new benefit between July and October 2013, according to the first figures on Universal Credit released by the Departmentfor Work and Pensions (DWP).
Wigan is one of four areas in the North West which has been trialling the new method of support, which replaces six current benefits including jobseeker’s allowance and income support, with a single payment.
The Government claimed the figures, which showed 70 per cent of claimants were aged under 25 and almost 3,000 people signed up in the four pathfinder areas, proved Universal Credit is helping people get into work at the beginning of their careers. Welfare reform minister Lord Freud said: “Universal Credit is a modern welfare system that ensures being in work pays, so taking a job is a more attractive option than remaining on benefits.
“Our commitment to build a stronger and more competitive Britain needs young people in jobs where they can progress.
“Alongside our £1billion Youth Contract, work programme and apprenticeships scheme, Universal Credit will help young people get on.”
The data showed there were still 700 people receiving Universal Credit in the borough on October 31, with400 living in the Wigan parliamentary constituency and 300 in Makerfield.
There were 210 starters on the scheme in July and September, with 190 in August and 180 in October.
Universal Credit, unlike previous benefits, continues to support low-paid employees once they begin work, which means young people should not face a severe withdrawal in support when they find a job.
The DWP estimates a single person under 25 working 35 hours a week at the national minimum wage could be up to £20 per week better off under Universal Credit.
Three further areas across the country will join the roll-out this spring.