JOBCENTRE staff in Greenock are sending out a message that they are still here to help people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Team members have been working at home and from the Dalrymple Street office during the lockdown period.

For the first four or five weeks, the Inverclyde team's main focus was making sure people were paid benefits on time.

Across the DWP staff have been deployed to help on the frontline and their role is more crucial than ever, after the Tele revealed last week how an extra 1,300 people have been forced to apply for Universal Credit in the space of four weeks.

This represents an increase of 21 per cent.

Eileen McClafferty, employer & partnerships manager for Inverclyde, said: "We are focusing on supporting the ongoing needs of individuals.

"We are regularly phoning people in receipt of benefit to offer advice, considering their situation now and as they look forward as lockdown measures are reviewed.

"There is great partnership working within Inverclyde and we are linking with local services to ensure we have up to date information to enable us to support our claimants as best we can."

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.

The team have been referring people to a variety of services including Skills Development Scotland, Advice First, the health and social care partnership and community care forum Your Voice.

Eileen added: "We are also able to support the needs of local employers.

"We are able to assist with their recruitment needs and can promote local vacancies to those currently looking for work.

"We are keeping an eye on the local labour market, particularly with changing demands of sectors due to the pandemic."

People can get advice on looking for work and vacancies at https://jobhelp.dwp.gov.uk/ and https://findajob.dwp.gov.uk/