Universal Credit claims from people in work have increased in all East Lancashire boroughs during the pandemic.

Data suggests that parts of the UK which are heavily reliant on tourism have been most affected by the jobs crisis.

Experts believe that due to many in the tourism and hospitality industry being made redundant or furloughed, the reduction on their income left them relying on Universal Credit (UC).

Ribble Valley has seen a five per cent increase of in-work claims from February 2020 to October 2020.

Almost one in two (48 per cent) UC claimants in the borough were classed as ‘in-work’ by October of last year, when tier three restrictions closed wet pubs in the county.

In comparison, in Blackburn-with-Darwen more than one in three (36 per cent) are claiming UC while working, while 37 per cent of the claims in Burnley are from workers.

Figures indicate that tourism in Ribble Valley contributes over £260million into the local economy, with both the economic impact and visitor numbers currently rising by over seven per cent every year.

MP for Ribble Valley, Nigel Evans said: “The extra claimants clearly demonstrate the importance of the hospitality industry to the Ribble Valley.

“This industry has been absolutely hammered during the pandemic.

“I do hope that extra attention will now be given to give extra assistance as we now come out of the hospitality regulations in order to give a fresh boost to all those working in this industry.”

Despite them having a lower percentage, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, Hyndburn and Rossendale have all seen a more significant rise of claiming workers at six per cent while Burnley has reported the lowest rise at four per cent.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity which conducts and funds research aimed at solving poverty in the UK, have said that he believes that more needs to be done to ensure in-work claimants don’t become out of work claimants when the furlough system ends.

Deputy director for evidence and impact, Peter Matejic said: “I think it’s a sign of two factors.

“One is that the pandemic has had a massive effect on the labour market - so lots of people have been furloughed, lots of people have reduced their hours and lots of people have lost their jobs and had to take up more lower paid jobs.

“So, in a way, it is to be expected that the earnings have gone down. What we are worried about is, this could be a temporary phenomenon as the furlough scheme is due to wind down at the end of April.

“Quite a lot of these people on Universal Credit at the moment are in one of these precarious situations where they might be on furlough or the business they work for is working out how to survive.

“The fact the number of claimants has gone up - and the proportion in work has gone up - is worrying because that means earnings have fallen.

“But we think it could get worse if lots of those people claiming Universal Credit in work after the end of the furlough scheme move over into the category of out-of-work claimants.”