A COUNTY councillor from Skelmersdale wants to reduce the “five week waiting time” for applications to Universal Credit to help those losing their job during the pandemic.
Cllr Julie Gibson claims any new applicants for Universal Credit have to wait “at least five weeks” for their first payment, which leaves many people without enough money to cover the bills.
The situation has been made worse with more redundancies during the pandemic and more job losses expected as furlough payments end in October.
According to The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, West Lancashire saw the biggest rise in people using Job Seekers Allowance of any other borough in Lancashire.
Cllr Gibson said: “The claimant count in West Lancashire still stands at 5.5%. Figures available also show that West Lancashire had the largest increase in applicants for Job Seekers Allowance (56%) in May 2020 across the whole of the county.
“As Job Seekers Allowance continues to be replaced by Universal Credit we will see a lot of people who are first time unemployed suddenly realising they will get nothing for five weeks.
“We have seen the start of the relaxation of the furlough scheme and already we are hearing predictions that this may lead to some employers having to lay off staff. Workers who have required support from the job retention scheme and self-employed income support scheme are most likely to face unemployment risks in the months ahead.
“I would call on the government to extend the furlough scheme but where people are made redundant they should have the safety and security of knowing they will not have to wait 5 weeks for a universal credit payment.
“Many news reports we see are talking of a post-Covid recession, we need to be prepared and ready to help people at risk of falling into debt, many of whom will be facing unemployment for the first time.”