THE number people claiming benefits still rockets above pre-pandemic levels, the latest figures show.

Almost double the number of people were claiming out-of-work benefits in Blackburn with Darwen as of July 9 - with 7,790 residents having to sign on compared to just 4,550 in early March. That’s 8.4 per cent of the working-age population, up from 4.9 per cent.

The situation was much the same in Burnley, where 4,850 were registered as claiming benefits as of July, compared to just 2,910 in March.

Again across Lancashire as a whole - including Rossendale, Ribble Valley, Hyndburn and Pendle, the trend continues, with almost double the amount of people, 45,370, having to claim.

The latest figures were released by the Office for National Statistics at the same time it was revealed almost 730,000 people have lost their jobs nationally since the coronavirus outbreak.

Anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warns many could be facing 'grinding pressure and uncertainty' about how to make ends meet as government job support schemes wind down.

Rebecca McDonald, senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said the figures suggest many are facing 'grinding pressure and uncertainty about how to pay their rent, put food on the table or find a new job'.

She added: “The latest figures cover a period when the full furlough scheme was still in place and millions were protected from the full force of the economic storm.

“As furlough is wound down, the Government must live up to its commitment to do whatever it takes to support employers, create new good jobs and equip jobseekers with the skills they need to access these opportunities.”

Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS, said there has been a rise in the number of jobless not looking for a position, though wanting to work.

He added: “In addition, there are still a large number of people who say they are working no hours and getting zero pay.

“The falls in employment are greatest among the youngest and oldest workers, along with those in lower-skilled jobs.”