Universal Credit in West Sussex: these are the areas hardest hit by coronavirus jobs crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the UK economy, with unemployment rising to a five-year high in the three months to December.

The number of residents claiming Universal Credit has risen. Photo: Pixabay
The number of residents claiming Universal Credit has risen. Photo: Pixabay

Analysis of Department for Work and Pensions figures by the JPIMedia Data Unit reveals the number of people claiming Universal Credit has more than doubled in each area of West Sussex – despite efforts to protect jobs through the government furlough scheme.

Crawley has been worst hit are in the county, with the number of claimants rising from 4,788 in January 2020 to 13,798 in January 2021, according to provisional figures – an increase of 188 per cent.

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It means that, at the beginning of the year, an estimated 12 per cent of the population were claiming the benefit.

Universal Credit is available to low earners as well as those out of work, so some people on furlough could be receiving wage top-ups.

The area was closely followed by Mid Sussex, which saw a 186 per cent rise from 2,838 to 8,115 claimants.

Next came Horsham, which saw its number of claimants rise by 159 per cent, from 3,029 to 7,830 over the year period.

Chichester saw a 155 per cent rise, from 3,082 to 7,867, while Adur saw a 149 per cent rise, from 2,038 to 5,082.

In Arun, the number of claimants rose by 142 per cent, from 5,248 in January 2020 to 12,708 in January 2021 – meaning an estimated eight per cent of residents were claiming the benefit at the start of the year.

Worthing saw the number of claimants increase from 3,737 to 8,973, a rise of 140 per cent.

Across England, those aged 20 to 24 have been the worst affected, with a rise of 132 per cent in claimants.

People in this age group were also most likely to be completely out of work or earning very little.

But in West Sussex, the picture is more mixed.

In Worthing, those aged 50 to 54 were worst affected. This age group saw the largest rise in the number of claimants between January 2020 and January 2021, an increase of 172 per cent.

This was the same in Chichester (202 per cent rise), in Adur (190 per cent increase) and Arun (172 per cent increase).

But in Horsham, those aged 60 to 65 were most impacted, seeing a 211 per cent rise.

In Crawley, people aged 45 to 49 were most affected – with this group witnessing a 224 per cent rise.

And in Mid Sussex those aged 16 to 19 were worst affected, undergoing a 280 per cent rise.

Universal Credit is normally only available to those aged 18 or over, but 16 and 17 year olds can apply in some circumstances.