The UK has received about 1.4m new benefit claims for welfare payments as the coronavirus lockdown freezes large sections of the economy.
“It’s now up to about 1.4m,” Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey told the BBC, adding that the figure included Universal Credit and job seekers’ allowance or employment support allowance.
“We are capable of processing and managing those claims,” she said.
“We’ve redirected a lot of our civil servants to make sure that we can process the claims so that people can get the financial support that they need quickly,” Coffey said.
“For those people that don’t want to wait the amount of time that we would normally pay Universal Credit, they’ve been able to get an advance.
“About 1.4m people have claimed UC and about 200,000 have claimed other, more historic benefits like Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance.
“Everyone who is eligible should be able to get that support.”
Benefit claims are now running at a level eight times higher than normal.
The government is also supporting workers that have been furloughed from their companies via the coronavirus job retention scheme.
Under that programme the government pays 80 per cent of wages up to £30,000 but the employee is not allowed to work during the period they are furloughed.