THE amount of people claiming benefits in Tendring has risen by 7 per cent over the past year.

The claimant count, the total number of people claiming a form of welfare, stands at 3,548.

This figure is 25 per cent lower than this time five years ago, but a seven per cent increase on last year.

Dave Cope, Essex operations manager for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said: “This increase is primarily as a result of more customers being counted due to Universal Credit rollout.

“Universal Credit allows us to offer support to a wider range of people, including more people in work.”

He added: “It has been a challenge. But this is the biggest change to the welfare state since Beveridge.

“We do welcome Universal Credit as it gives more flexibility - we are able to look at the individual cases and what they need rather than tick a box of which benefit they fit.”

This week Clacton MP Giles Watling questioned ministers from the DWP over the support offered to vulnerable claimants.

He said: “I recently wrote to the Secretary of State about one of my constituents in Clacton and the severe disability premium.

“I set out that my constituent was moved on to Universal Credit in October, but now says that she is £185 a month worse off.

“I know the draft Universal Credit Regulations 2019 will rectify her situation and provide a lump sum to cover the missed payments since she moved.

“This is welcome, but when does the Secretary of State expect the regulations to be voted on so they can become law, especially given the real need of some claimants now?”

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “There has recently been a court judgment on the Universal Credit Amendment Regulations 2019, and we will have to wait to consider it before I will be able to give him an update.”