MORE people were on universal credit in South Lakeland in March than a year before, figures show.

Universal credit is a benefit available to those out of work, disabled or below a threshold of earnings and savings.

Combined with a winding-up of older benefits and reduced employment opportunities, the number of people using universal credit across England rose dramatically over the pandemic – and has remained high since.

Provisional figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show 4,761 people were using the benefit in South Lakeland as of March – a 6% rise on 4,473 the year before.

In March, 48% of universal credit recipients in the area were employed.

Across England and Wales, the number of households with a member on universal credit reached a record peak in February, at nearly 4.5 million across England and Wales.

In South Lakeland 3,508 households were receiving the benefit.

The number of recipients in the area peaked in December 2020, when 5,522 were receiving the benefit.

In England and Wales 112 local authorities hit their highest ever number of universal credit recipients in March – more than 30% of all areas.