Shotts MP Neil Gray has added his voice to calls for immediate UK government assistance for struggling households.
It follows the release of the latest Universal Credit numbers which show a rise of two-thirds in people claiming the benefit in his parliamentary constituency.
Figures for January show 3725 people claiming the benefit, that’s up 1500 on the same month last year.
The current number is down from the high in August of 4185 claimants.
Statistics for Motherwell and Wishaw show 3945 people claiming Universal Credit, up from 2330 the year before, but down from the high of 4400 in August.
The former SNP Spokesperson on Work and Pensions, said he was “shocked but not surprised” that the number of claimants in Airdrie and Shotts has risen by more than 67 per cent since before the Covid pandemic.
He said: “Airdrie and Shotts Universal Credit claimant number of 2225 in January 2020 was far too high as it was but the comparison figure of 3725 for the same month this year is shocking. “The UK Government must act, and act now, to ensure that these people do not get left behind, weighed down by debt accrued through no fault of their own.
“We need to pressure the Chancellor into avoiding a return to austerity. He must look at these figures and those from across the UK and plug the gaps in support offered.
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"An extension to furlough, assisting the three million excluded from Covid assistance so far and making the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent and available to legacy benefits are just the start of the support he should be looking at.
“At the Budget, the Chancellor must also prioritise investing in the key areas of the economy to stimulate jobs, recovery and wellbeing. That means embarking on a massive social house building programme, investing in skills and training and ensuring our public services have the finances they need to rebuild.”