One in five expect to apply for benefits or have already done so, survey finds

One in five UK adults expect to apply for benefits as a result of coronavirus or have already done so, according to Citizens Advice.

This rises to nearly seven in 10 (68%) people on zero hours employment contracts, a survey between April 2 and 7 found.

Citizens Advice also highlighted Government figures showing over 1.5 million households made a Universal Credit claim between March 1 and April 12.

The charity has had nearly 2.5 million views of its online advice on employment and benefits issues since the lockdown started.

It said insights from frontline advisers at Citizens Advice suggest the claims process remains problematic for some people, such as those who do not have personal identification, a bank account, or an internet connection.

Accessibility issues have been exacerbated by the necessary temporary closure of libraries and job centres, the charity said.

Almost one in six (15%) people surveyed for Citizens Advice anticipate having to borrow money from friends or family to cope with the wait before payment if they do apply for Universal Credit, its survey of more than 2,000 people found.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Behind today’s figures are families whose world has been turned upside down by coronavirus.

“The Government has worked hard to shore up protections for workers and process soaring claims for Universal Credit. But we know that some people are still slipping through the safety net, often with desperate consequences.

“Plugging the remaining gaps in the employment support schemes could protect more jobs. And for those needing support from the benefits system, turning advance payments into a grant would really ease the burden.”

Jamie McGlynn, a contact centre manager at Citizens Advice Manchester, said: “Our advisers are receiving calls every day from people whose livelihood has simply disappeared due to this pandemic.”

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