A GROWING number of people in Renfrewshire are claiming Universal Credit after losing their jobs or being furloughed during the Covid pandemic.

Latest figures for the area show there were 15,665 claimants last month – a rise of 390 since January.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said many of the new claimants are people on high incomes who have seen their earnings slashed over the past year.

“Not all of the increase in Renfrewshire is down to people losing their jobs,” added a DWP spokesman. “People are eligible for Universal Credit if their earnings drop or if they are unable to work.”

Across Scotland as a whole, the number of people on Universal Credit jumped by 2.3% to 488,553.

Will Quince, Minister for Welfare Delivery, said: “This government continues to support millions of people in need through Universal Credit. It is a key pillar of our response as we continue to move out of lockdown and will remain as a vital safety net.”

Around 100,000 Scots are thought to have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

A £20 increase in Universal Credit uplift has been extended until the end of September.

The UK Government’s furlough scheme will also continue until the end of September, paying up to 80% of wages.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “These figures show the scale of the challenge we face to rebuild our economy.

“We have committed to provide the Scottish Government with an additional £14billion since the start of the pandemic.”

West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby, of Scottish Labour, said the latest figures underline the “absolute importance” of supporting people through the Covid crisis.

He added: “It’s right that the £20 uplift in Universal Credit was extended but it shouldn’t have taken a nationwide campaign to secure extra support for claimants.

“Not enough has been done to sustain key sectors of our local economy, like aviation and aerospace, and there is no plan for a recovery that will genuinely build back better after this year-long crisis.

“We have to act now to secure a recovery that works for all and a plan to get Renfrewshire working again.”