Rise in benefits claimants

The Job Centre in John St, Penicuik
The Job Centre in John St, Penicuik

A 51 per cent increase in the number of benefits claimants in Midlothian in the past year has been blamed on the rollout of Universal Credit.

In March 2018 the number of claimants in the county was 1555, up by 525 from same month last year. This rise has been put down to the roll out of Universal Credit in March 2017 for the Dalkeith and Penicuik job centre areas.

Under Universal Credit a broader span of claimants face full conditionality than under Jobseekers Allowance.

As Universal Credit is rolled out this means the number of people recorded as being on the claimant count is likely to rise. The claimant count includes those who are on JSA, or who are searching for work on Universal Credit.

Despite the sudden rise from last year, the claimant count in Midlothian is still down by 29 per cent from five years ago.

Meanwhile, Stephen Glen of Penicuik Job Centre, spoke about the local job market.

He said: “We have a fairly buoyant labour market at present with on-going recruitment at Straiton Retail Park with the likes of McDonalds and all retail outlets.

“While, Midlothian Council secured £836,000 of Big Lottery funding to provide support with children and families with mental health issues. We intend to link in with our partners to ensure customers are referred at the first opportunity.”