THE number of people out of work has soared in Inverclyde due to the impact of Covid-19.

An extra 1,300 people have been forced to apply for Universal Credit in the space of four weeks - an increase of 21 per cent.

But Greenock job centre bosses say the rise isn't as steep as elsewhere and is half of that in Scotland and across the UK.

Eileen McClafferty, employer & partner manager for Inverclyde, said: "The rise in Inverclyde is 21 per cent compared with roughly 40 per cent in Scotland and the UK.

"From that point of view we don't look to have been as severely impacted.

"Although there has been a lesser effect, there has still been an impact.

"There have been quite a number of people who have not claimed before or haven't claimed for a long time.

"We are supporting people who have been furloughed, self-employed and people who have lost their jobs.

"Nationally there have been changes in how we process applications, we are over that peak now but we are still receiving applications."

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that there were 6,455 claimants in Inverclyde on March 12 and this rose to 7,819 by April 9.

Job centre staff in Greenock are still working to support people and make sure they get their benefits processed as quickly as possible.

They are also assisting those who need help with job seeking skills and enabling recruitment.

Eileen said: "There is a mix, we have some staff working from home and some people in the office.

"We are socially distancing and have spaced out the desks.

"The job has changed and staff have been redeployed to do different duties.

"We contact customers by phone and universal credit customers have a digital journal where they can ask questions, make requests or report a change in circumstances.

"People are still moving into work and we had a request for help from a claimant looking for clothes to start work."

Eileen said her team are also helping people apply for local vacancies at plastics firm BPI and Amazon in Gourock.

She says that a big part of their job just now is helping people update their CV and assisting those who are having mental health issues by directing them to other agencies still operating.

Eileen said: "Covid presents different challenges to, and difficulties for, different people in different ways."