The number of people opening universal credit claims each week has surged by 13 per cent in the last three months, new figures show, as the cost of living crisis hits families across the UK.
Official data shows that on average 33,000 claims were opened between January and April 2022, compared with 29,000 the previous quarter.
Overall, 5.6 million people were on the benefit in mid-April, of whom 3.8 million were children – up 200,000 in November 2021.
Campaigners warn that these children could be suffering the effects of the cost of living crisis because the government has failed to increase benefits in line with the rate at which prices are rising.
Inflation is currently running at 7 per cent and is projected to hit 10 per cent in the autumn – but universal credit was uprated by just 3.1 per cent last month.
New research meanwhile shows that an estimated 1.8 million families on the benefit are having to live on significantly less than they are entitled to because the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is deducting debt repayments from their benefits at an unaffordable rate.
Ministers are being urged to scrap “draconian” deductions rules to stop families from falling into deep hardship as costs soar.