Concentrations of worklessness

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • All the statistics below relate to working-age people in receipt of out-of-work benefits (termed ‘claimants’).
  • Despite a rise in the latest three years (since February 2008), claimant numbers in the areas with the most claimants of out-of-work benefits are still lower than a decade ago.  But this rate of reduction has been somewhat less than that in the areas with the least claimants.  So, for example, the number of working-age claimants in the 10% of small areas with the highest levels of recipiency has fallen from 150,000 in February 2000 to 130,000 in February 2011 whilst the number in the 50% of small areas with the lowest levels of recipiency has fallen from 155,000 in February 2000 to 125,000 in February 2011.  In other words, over the last decade, the overall level of geographical concentration of claimants has, if anything, increased.  In this sense at least, the policies of the last decade have not in general succeeded in reducing the gap between the most deprived areas of Scotland and the rest.
  • In February 2011, around a third of all working-age people were receiving out-of-work benefits in the areas with the highest concentrations.  This compares with around 15% in areas with average concentrations.
  • Around 40% of claimants live in a fifth of small areas, whilst the other 60% live outside of these areas.  In other words, a majority of claimants live outside of the high concentration areas.

Definitions and data sources

This indicator examines how the pattern of recipiency of key out-of-work benefits by working-age people varies at a small area level and how these patterns have changed over time.  It does so by placing the 6,500 small areas (‘data zones’) in Scotland into a number of equal groups according to the proportion of their working-age population who are in receipt of such benefits.  The benefits included are Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, and Carer’s Allowance and, if someone is receiving more than one of these benefits, they are only counted once.

The first graph shows how the levels of concentration have changed over time, comparing the number of recipients in the tenth of small areas with the highest levels of recipiency with the half of small areas with the lowest levels of recipiency (where high/low levels of recipiency are defined in terms of the proportion of the working-age population who are recipients).

The second graph shows, for the latest year, the extent to which rates of recipiency vary between small areas and the third graph shows the share of the total recipients who are in each group of small areas.  Note that the denominator in the second graph is the total population aged 16 to 64 (rather than the working-age population) as this is the only age group for which up-to-date population estimates exist.

The data source for all the graphs is the DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study, using small area population estimates from GRO as the denominator.  The data for each year relates to the month of February, with the year 2000 being the earliest for which such data is available.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The underlying data is a full count and is considered to be very reliable.  But the data is a count of people in receipt of key out-of-work benefits rather than a count of people in low income.  So, for example, it excludes all people in low pay and includes all recipients of out-of-work benefits even if they have some private income.

External links