The number of new people claiming Universal Credit in Basingstoke has skyrocketed since the start of lockdown.

The most recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that across Basingstoke & Deane, the number of claims under Universal Credit by the unemployed and those on low incomes increased by 39.5 per cent in the period dating from March 12 to April 9. The total number of people increased from 5,508 to 7,685 in that same time period.

For comparison, England as a whole saw a 39.4 per cent rise, Test Valley UC saw a 47.1 per cent rise while Winchester City Council UC rose by 58.8 per cent.

Lynne Grimes is the senior provision manager at the Department for Work and Pensions and said this was "just the tip of the iceberg."

"This just looks at one of the impacts of the coronavirus," she told the Gazette referring to UC.

"You also have to account for those that are self-employed and those on furlough."

Official statisticians also said early estimates for April 2020 indicate that the number of paid employees in the UK fell by 1.6 per cent compared with March, as firms began to feel a greater impact from the lockdown.

Job vacancies also significantly decreased, with the number of empty posts in the three months to April diving by 170,000 to 637,000, compared with the previous quarter.

The ONS also revealed that unemployment increased by 50,000 to 1.35 million in the three months to March, as the impact of the pandemic first started to be felt in the UK.

Ms Grimes continued: "There have been so many new claims that we redeployed all our other jobs to deal with new claims.

"With our customers at the moment, we have a mix of people.

"We have the new customers, who will literally be going back to work as soon as the workplace is safe.

"Others have reviewed their business and don’t need as many people, so there will be people who unfortunately will be going through redundancy.

"It’s quite a mixed bag."

But not all is lost.

She said that there are still "many" jobs going in the chain of delivery services and agricultural work.

She asked that customers contact the DWP via their Universal Credit journal if they have one as it’s the "easiest and quickest way to get a response whilst phone lines are so busy" and to visit for advice.