Figures show thousands of Mansfield and Ashfield residents claiming Universal Credit

Thousands of residents across Mansfield and Ashfield are claiming the all-in-one benefit package Universal Credit, new figures have revealed.

Latest statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions showed that an almost identical amount of people across both districts are claiming the package - 4,157 people in Mansfield and 4,178 in Ashfield.

Thousands of people are claiming Universal Credit.

Thousands of people are claiming Universal Credit.

The figures also show that 3,533 people in Newark and Sherwood are claiming the new benefit package.

Universal Credit, which is now available in every job centre across the UK, simplifies the benefit system and replaces six previous benefits with a single monthly payment.

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The controversial benefit system was rolled out last year across Nottinghamshire, starting with Newark and Sherwood District Council in May, followed by the remaining local authorities in the autumn months.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the release of the latest Universal Credit data comes in the same week that the UK employment rate was recorded at a near record high rate of 75.9 per cent.

Figures by the department show that 2,624 people in Ashfield are claiming unemployment benefits, a 24 per cent decrease on five years ago.

The same statistics show that 2,204 Mansfield residents claiming unemployment benefit - a 33 per cent decrease in the same period.

And across the East Midlands on a whole, the unemployment rate is at 111,000, or 4.5 per cent - down 57,000 since 2010.

Will Quince, government minister for welfare delivery, said: “Universal Credit is a force for good, providing vital support across the length and breadth of the East Midlands and helping people into work.

“Universal Credit provides a vital safety net to millions, preventing families from falling through the cracks.

"We continue to make improvements – in the last month alone we have increased childcare support, announced new funding to help veterans and their families, and brought in new measures to crack down on fraudsters.”

Concerns about Universal Credit have centred on the difficulties people have faced with budgeting because of the new monthly payments.