Two million Brits apply for Universal Credit during coronavirus crisis as welfare bill soars to £6.5bn


TWO million have signed on during the coronavirus pandemic as the crisis continues to bulldoze Britain.

Ministers expect the welfare bill to soar to £6.5billion — with claims six times the usual for this time of year.

Two million Brits apply for Universal Credit during coronavirus crisis as the welfare bill soared to £6.5bn

Around 25,000 Brits a day are still signing on — double the pre-coronavirus rate.

Some 6.3million, meanwhile, have been furloughed by 800,000 bosses.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said last night the scheme will be extended to the end of June.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey unveiled the benefit figures to MPs.

Since March 16, she said, 1.8millon had claimed Universal Credit, more than 250,000 Jobseeker’s Allowance and 20,000 Employment Support Allowance.

She told the Commons: “This is six times the volume that we would typically experience and in one week we had a tenfold increase.” She added that almost 700,000 advances had been issued to people who could not wait for their payment.

Other figures showed the furlough scheme could cost the Treasury £8billion.

Mr Sunak confirmed there would be no sudden halt, although he said he was assessing how to “wind down the scheme and to ease people back into work in a measured way”.

He said: “As some scenarios have suggested, we are potentially spending as much on the furlough scheme as we do on the NHS. Clearly, that is not a sustainable situation.”

Torsten Bell, of the Resolution Foundation think-tank said: “Even despite mass furloughing, unemployment is still soaring.

“We are likely to be living with the legacy of high unemployment that coronavirus has given Britain, long after it has been phased out.”

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