GROWING numbers of people in York and North Yorkshire are turning to Universal Credit to help with their living costs.

In York, 13,238 people were claiming the support payment by January 14, up from 13,137 the previous month.

Jenny Shaw, of the JobCentre in York, said the increase in claimants from December to January had been gradual, and included people who were furloughed.

"The good thing is that the economy will open up in the coming months," she said, adding that there were numerous opportunities for training and learning new skills to improve employment chances.

The figures which are the latest local authority data available show the number of people claiming UC, including those who are unemployed as well as people on low incomes.

In Ryedale these figures were 3,749, compared with December's 3,678 claimants, while in Selby the number of claimants reached 5,604, up from 5,534. In Harrogate the figures were 10,520, compared with 10,380 in December.

Nationally, the unemployment rate edged up to 5.1 per cent in the three months to December, its highest level in almost five years. Younger workers were hardest hit.

The latest news follows the Prime Minister's announcement on Monday, setting out the roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown and the vaccine rollout.

The Government's Plan for Jobs is aiming to help people back on their feet and into work, with support through programmes such as Kickstart and the Job Entry Targeted Support scheme to create opportunities and boost skills.