The number of people on Universal Credit in the north-east has risen again, new figures have revealed.
Data released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) shows more than 33,000 people in the region were claiming the benefit as of January 14.
In Aberdeen, there were 18,479 claimants – a rise of 2.9% on the figure for December.
Aberdeenshire had a total of 14,627, a 2.2% increase on the previous month.
The figure includes everyone claiming Universal Credit, not just those who are unemployed.
The number of people out of work has also risen in the north-east, with 9,302 job-seeking claimants in Aberdeen – 124% higher than the same period last year.
In Aberdeenshire, there were 6,440 job-seekers, up 125% from the same time in 2020.
Welfare delivery minister Will Quince said: “Universal Credit continues to support millions of people during their time of need. It is a vital safety net that has stood up to the challenge of the pandemic, and with thousands of new work coaches, we are helping claimants across the country get back on their feet with one-to-one tailored support.
“Universal Credit is one of the pillars of our support for families with lower incomes and our Plan for Jobs is helping people back on their feet and into work, with nearly two million people being supported through innovative programmes such as Kickstart and the Job Entry Targeted Support scheme.”
Following the release of the statistics, the UK Government was criticised for failing to clarify whether a £20 weekly top-up payment would be continued.
Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn said ending the uplift would force more people into poverty.
He added: “Thousands of people across Aberdeen are reliant on this lifeline payment and it is beyond the pale that the Tories have refused to rule out slashing payments.
“The pandemic and oil price collapse created a perfect storm that hit our city hard and, right now, the very last thing we need is the Tories removing this vital safety.
“The Chancellor must rule out a cut to Universal Credit payments and maintain the £20 uplift – no ifs, no buts.”