NORTHERN IRELAND

Working-age out-of-work benefit recipients

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Around 220,000 people were in receipt of an out-of-work benefit in February 2010.  Of these, 130,000 (i.e. more than half) were sick or disabled, 50,000 were unemployed and 25,000 were lone parents.
  • Until 2008, numbers had been falling slowly but steadily, from 210,000 in February 200 to 185,000 in February 2008.  Much of the fall was in unemployed claimants, the numbers of whom halved over the period, from 40,000 to 20,000.
  • Between February 2008 and February 2010, however, numbers rose sharply, from 185,000 to 220,000.  All of this rise was in the number of unemployed claimants which, by February 2010, was greater than at any point in the previous decade.
  • Despite the recent rise in unemployed claimants, the biggest group of claimants remains those who are sick or disabled (more than half of all working-age claimants).
  • Almost half of all claimants of out-of-work disability benefits have mental or behaviour conditions.  This is more than twice the size of the next largest group, namely those with musculo-skeletal disorders.
  • Two-fifths of all claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are aged less than 45.
  • The proportion of working-age people who are in receipt of out-of-work benefits is much higher in Derry, Strabane and Belfast than elsewhere – almost twice the rate of many other areas.  With a few exceptions, the proportion is usually higher in the western districts than in the eastern ones.
  • The latest comparable data between Northern Ireland and Great Britain is for February 2008.  At that time, 17% of working age adults in Northern Ireland were receiving at least one out-of-work benefit.  This proportion was higher than in any of the regions of Great Britain and compares with a Great Britain average of 12%.
  • This high overall rate is driven by a high rate of receipt by people who were sick or disabled, some 12% of all working-age adults in Northern Ireland.  The Great Britain average for this benefit group was just 7%.  By contrast, the proportion receiving either Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support was, at 5%, similar to the Great Britain average.
  • The level of Income Support for both families with children and pensioners has gone up much faster than inflation over the last decade.  In contrast, that for working-age adults without children has remained constant in real terms.  See the UK indicator on benefit levels.

Definitions and data sources

For all the graphs, the data is for the month of February of each year.

The first graph shows the numbers of working-age people claiming one or more ‘key out-of-work benefits’.

‘Key out-of-work benefit’ covers the following benefits: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance.

For each year, the total is broken down by type of claimant: unemployed, sick and disabled, lone parents and others (e.g. carers and asylum seekers).

The data source for the first graph is the Department for Social Development (the data is not publicly available).

As can be seen from the first graph, the biggest group of claimants of key out-of-work benefits are sick or disabled.  In this context, the second graph provides, for the latest year, a breakdown of recipients of Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance by reason (recipients of Employment and Support Allowance are not included as data for this benefit by reason is not currently available).

The third graph shows, for the latest year, an age breakdown for those who in receipt of either Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance (recipients of Employment and Support Allowance are not included as data for this benefit by age is not currently available).

The data source for the second and third graphs is the quarterly Department for Social Development IB and SDA statistics.

The fourth graph and map show, for the latest year, how the proportion of the working-age population who are in receipt of a key out-of-work benefit varies by local authority.

The data source for the fourth graph and map is the Department for Social Development (the data is not publicly available).

The fifth graph shows, for February 2008, how the proportion of working-age people in receipt of key out-of-work benefits in Northern Ireland compares with the regions of Great Britain, with the data shown separately according to whether the individuals are sick or disabled.  Note that February 2008 is the latest data as, from that date, the Great Britain figures are no longer collected on the same basis as the Northern Ireland figures.

The data source for the fifth graph is the DWP Client Group Analysis (Great Britain) and the Department of Social Development (NI) (the Northern Irish data is not publicly available).  The data has been analysed to avoid double-counting of those receiving multiple benefits by matching data from individual samples.  Note that, since 2008, the data for Great Britain and Northern Ireland has ceased to be comparable.

ONS population estimates have been used to calculate the proportions in the fourth and fifth graphs.