CUMBRIA has seen almost 20,000 extra people claiming universal credit since 2019.

The number of universal credit claimants, including those not required to seek work, hit 35,615 in August. This is 19,581 higher than two years ago - an increase of 122 percent.

However, paid employment rose in Cumbria in August to 219,330, and is now slightly above the pre-pandemic level of two years ago. This is the case in all parts of Cumbria except Allerdale and Eden, which are still marginally below pre-pandemic levels.

Currently, there is a cry for workers in the logistics and hospitality sectors, but these areas are struggling to recruit.

Shane Byrne, partnership manager for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Cumbria, outlined plans to support people at risk of long-term unemployment.

"The £2 billion Kickstart Scheme will provide high quality, six month placements," he said. "Funding available for each six-month job placement will cover 100 percent of the national minimum wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up.

"The scheme will be focused on supporting young people who are on universal credit and at risk of long term unemployment.

"An expanded Youth Offer to support 18 to 24-year-olds, this will include a 13-week programme and once completed participants will be encouraged to take up work related training or an apprenticeship and further support will be provided through Youth Employment Coaches and Youth Hubs based in the community.

"Expanding the Work and Health programme to provide personalised, light touch support for up to 6 months for those who have been unemployed for three months."

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP, hailed the fall in unemployment.

She said: "As we continue to push ahead with our recovery, it’s great to see another significant fall in unemployment and the number of people on payrolls rising by 241,000 in August – the biggest monthly increase on record – showing our Plan for Jobs is working.

“We’re helping employers recruit for the record number of vacancies out there, particularly in growing sectors, and supporting people of all ages and backgrounds to overcome barriers, land their next role, and progress in work.”

The DWP also announced a further boost to the help available across the UK by increasing the number of retraining places to 80,000 for the next financial year – building on the 40,000 already successfully delivered over the last eight months.