THERE was an increase of more than 200 per cent in young people claiming universal credit while searching for work year on year, latest data has shown.

Figures released by the department for work and pensions shows, in the BCP Council area, 2,703 18 to 24 year olds were claiming universal credit while searching for work as of August this year.

This is an increase of 1,868, or 224 per cent, from the same time last year.

In the Dorset Council area, 1,770 18 to 24 year olds were claiming the benefit, a rise of 1,234, or 230 per cent.

Across the UK, 2.76 million people were claiming universal credit, an increase of 118 per cent on last year.

The total number of people claiming universal credit and not out of work in the BCP Council area stood at 35,847 as of September. This accounted for 0.6 per cent of all universal credit claimants in the UK and was an increase of 619 people from August.

In the Dorset Council area, 24,509 people were claiming universal credit in October, 366 more than the previous month.

Despite this, job vacancies in Dorset reached 5,294 in October, overtaking last year’s levels for the first time since March.

For every vacancy in the county, there were 4.8 universal credit claimants, down from 7.5 at the peak in May.

At the end of August, 77,000 less people were furloughed compared to the previous month.

The department for work and pensions, in a bid to tackle unemployment, said it is recruiting work coaches across Dorset, and hopes to have 440 new coaches across Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by March 2021.

Minister for employment Mims Davies said: “This remains a challenging time for families across the country and today’s figures show the impact the virus is having on our labour market.

“Through our plan for jobs we have a relentless focus on protecting, supporting and creating jobs and we continue to help people of all ages into work.

“We’re doubling the number of work coaches across our jobcentres with 4,500 already taking up posts, our £2bn kickstart scheme is under way with the first recruits starting last week.

“We continue to take the necessary action to save jobs and protect livelihoods.”

Minister for welfare delivery, Will Quince, added: “Universal credit is a vital safety net – it has stood up to the toughest of tests and supported millions through the pandemic.”