DWP 'needs thousands more staff members' to deal with rise in Universal Credit claims
Ministers are considering doubling the number of frontline staff dealing with Universal Credit to cope with the increase in demand since the coronavirus outbreak.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told peers her department could need twice its current cohort of 13,500 work coaches – a staff member assigned to assist claimants in finding work – to deal with the sheer volume of benefit applications.
Benefit claims in the UK soared by more than 69 per cent in April as the coronavirus lockdown gripped the labour market.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that claims under Universal Credit by the unemployed and those on low incomes surged by a record 856,000 to 2.1 million in April, compared with the previous month.
Ms Coffey confirmed new recruits to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) would be needed to help both process the applications and guide those who have been made unemployed during Covid-19 back into work.
Police find ‘strong correlation’ between lockdown breaches and warmer weather
The UK’s largest police force has released analysis showing “a strong correlation” between lockdown breaches, hot weather and holiday periods.
According to the Metropolitan Police data, taken from March 27 to May 14, 973 people were issued Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for lockdown breaches while only 36 people were arrested.
The analysis shows the number of FPNs issued in St James’ Park peaked with warm temperatures from Sunday April 5 to Tuesday April 7 as well as the Bank Holiday weekend.
The next peak came on Wednesday, April 15 when the temperature rose by six degrees before a final peak was recorded on Saturday, April 18.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons said officers had adopted a proportionate approach to the punishment of coronavirus breaches where enforcement had been used as a last resort. He said:
“We have seen, overall, good compliance when we have intervened, meaning in most cases the need for issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice or arrest has been unnecessary.
“I hope Londoners will be reassured as a result of the low volume of Covid-19 related enforcement that we have been using the new powers only when we have absolutely needed to.”
Minister 'hopes people will be able to go on holiday this year'
Health minister Edward Argar said he hoped people would be able to go on holiday this year.
He told the BBC’s Today programme: “I’m not going to say a particular date on when that might happen because we will have to be guided by how the disease behaves, controlling any risk of a second wave and controlling the disease.
“I hope that people will be able to go on holiday at some point this year, but I can’t make that promise and because I have to be cautious and go with the science and I don’t have that forward view yet of how a second wave or otherwise might behave.”
The prime minister will face a grilling from Labour leader Keir Starmer at today's Prime Minister's Questions.
Boris Johnson is expected to make his first appearance at PMQs since news emerged of his senior aide Dominic Cummings' controversial trip to Durham during the coronavirus lockdown.
He will likely face questions from the Labour leader and other MPs on that, as well as the government's decision to further ease lockdown restrictions through June.
PMQs from the House of Commons will begin at 12pm.
The leaders will come face to face on the day the UK coronavirus death toll could reach 50,000, having passed 49,800 on Tuesday according to the latest figures from the ONS and the Department of Health.
Meanwhile, new quarantine restrictions on travellers arriving in the UK will be set out by Home Secretary Priti Patel today.
The majority of visitors to Britain will have to self-isolate for 14 days - however it is understood that exemptions will be announced.
The plans will come into force from June 8.
A breach of self-isolation in England would be punishable with a £1,000 fixed penalty notice or potential prosecution and unlimited fine, while devolved administrations will set out their own enforcement action.
Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted “black lives matter” as he published a new review which found black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are at significantly higher risk of dying from Covid-19.
The study, from Public Health England, looked at the risk factors for coronavirus and found BAME individuals have a much higher risk of death than white people, as do those from poorer backgrounds, men and anyone who is obese or suffering from diabetes.
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