THE coronavirus lockdown has forced more men to rely on benefits, according to new Universal Credit (UC) figures.

Thousands more residents are now claiming benefits as the economy shut down in March, with the total registered at Clydebank Jobcentre up 47.1 per cent.

But the numbers on UC have gone up more for men than women. While female claimants are up 36.7 per cent, men are up 57 per cent.

In Clydebank, there are nearly 4,000 people now claiming UC, compared to 2,550 in February.

Drumchapel Jobcentre saw similar numbers, with residents on UC up 31.8 per cent – and women are up 22.7 per cent compared to men at 42.6 per cent. The total is up to nearly 2,000 people compared to 1,426 in February.

Clydebank’s MP said the figures highlighted the pressures Bankies and others were facing.

Martin Docherty-Hughes said: “These figures give a glimpse at the far reaching effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which too many of my constituents are experiencing first-hand.

“People are struggling through no fault of their own and we need to ensure everyone that needs it can support their families, pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads. The current tax system can be used to put money directly in people’s pockets now.

“The challenge facing our society is how best to ensure that as the restrictions are slowly lifted nobody is left behind and are given the necessary support.”

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Mr Docherty-Hughes called for a Universal Basic Income – which gives every citizen a guaranteed annual payment – to be trialled.

Maurice Golden, West Scotland MSP said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is a health emergency, but also an economic one.”

Garscadden/Scotstounhill councillor Eva Murray said work needed to be done to work out why there was a gender gap.

She said: “No-one is immune from the impact, but it’s being felt harder by different groups of people in the less well off parts of our city.

“Our first job is to keep people safe, and making sure people are financially secure to stay at home without worrying.

“We need to dig deeper and understand why more men have claimed for UC than women. But while lockdown is likely to continue, we need to make sure that there is enough mental health support in place for people now struggling.”

Gil Paterson, Clydebank’s MSP, said the rise in claimants was down to the cracks in the UK Government’s business support.

He said: “Many, such as the self-employed, business owners, contractors and various others, now find themselves seeking benefits, which could have been avoided.

"The UK Government has been the main controller of who gets money and where, and as such they have failed the thousands now seeking lifeline support on UC.”

Local groups have continued to support residents who are in need during the lockdown.

The Men Matter group, based in Drumchapel, said they had seen an increase in demand for their support, including phone counselling, one-to-one with social distancing in their hub, online talking groups, and collecting and delivering food parcels for men and families.

Peter Divers, from Men Matter, said: “We believe providing these sessions will give men a break in their week and a chance to socialise online.”