NEW figures reveal that more people than ever in the district are using Universal Credit.

Provisional data from the Department for Work and Pensions shows that 66,944 people were using the benefit in Bradford district as of March, seven per cent up on 12 months earlier and a new high.

Universal Credit is a benefit available to those out of work, disabled or below a threshold of earnings and savings.

The Government said it expected to see a rise in recipients as people transferred from the old benefits system.

But Bradford Council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe says people are struggling and need help.

She called for an increase in Government investment so the council could do more.

"These figures show that people in our district are still struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and need support," she said.

"For those of working age, many struggle because of low-paid and insecure employment.

"It's really stressful for people because these days they struggle to put food on the table.

"The council funds a comprehensive employment support programme to help find people good jobs but obviously with more Government investment we would wish to do more."

Bradford & Airedale Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) says the figures are a "sad reflection" of the current climate.

A spokesperson said: "Unfortunately the latest figures of those in employment but with low earnings, having to claim Universal Credit, are not a shock but are a very true and sad reflection of the growing financial crisis people are facing.

"To be working and still unable to meet basic needs such as gas and electricity, food and travel is a problem facing a growing number of people.

"The CAB helps a lot of people and this feature of those in work struggling to make ends meet is a very worrying development.

"The ability of people to get help from family, friends or their community is decreasing as high numbers of people are facing difficulties caused by the cost-of-living crisis."

A spokesperson for the Government said: "As we move claimants from the outdated benefits system to Universal Credit, we expect the number of people on Universal Credit to continue to increase.

"We have launched a £94 billion support package worth around £3,300 per household to help those most in need.

"This is on top of an unprecedented increase to the national living wage, and raising benefits by over ten per cent."