North Devon has one of the highest percentages of in-work claimants of Universal Credit in the UK.

According to Department for Work and Pensions figures, there were 158 employed claimants in North Devon on Universal Credit in July 2018.

That is 47 per cent of the total, one of the highest percentages of in-work claimants in Britain.

In Torridge the number was slightly lower – there were 154 employed claimants in July, which accounts for 39 per cent of all claimants.

Overall, there were 333 people on Universal Credit in North Devon, 20 more than the previous month.

In Torridge there were 395 - which is 36 more than in the previous month.

Universal Credit is a new benefit, slowly being rolled out by the Government, which replaces six legacy benefits and merges them into one payment.

It includes income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credits, and working tax credits.

Pritie Billimoria, from Turn2us, a charity which helps people who are struggling financially, said it was ‘shocking’ such a high number of workers earn so little that they are forced to rely on benefits.

She said: “Every day we hear from working people who are living hand to mouth and facing impossible decisions about whether to buy food or pay their rent.

“We know that the rise of in-work poverty and in-work claimants is complicated.

“Households are dealing with low pay, the rising cost of living and changes to welfare support, which are all having a compounding effect on the daily lives of families across the UK.

“Work needs to be a route out of poverty so people are not left dealing with the intolerable stress and anxiety that their wages don’t cover their basic costs of living.”