Working-age out-of-work benefit recipients
Graphs on this page:
- Up until 2008, the number of working-age claimants of out-of-work benefits had been falling steadily, from 590,000 in February 2000 to 480,000 in February 2008. A large part of this fall was in the number of unemployed claimants, which halved over the period.
- In the year to February 2009, however, numbers rose sharply, from 480,000 to 530,000. All of this rise was in the number of unemployed claimants.
- Numbers since February 2009 have remained broadly unchanged, with the net result that number in February 2011 was still well below the level of a decade previously.
- Despite the rise in unemployed claimants in the year to February 2009, the biggest group of claimants remains those who are sick or disabled, who make up around half of all claimants.
- The proportion of working-age people in receipt of out-of-work benefits is more than twice as high in Glasgow, Inverclyde, West Dunbartonshire and North Ayrshire than in some other parts of Scotland.
- Almost half of all claimants of out-of-work disability benefits have mental or behaviour disorders. This is more than twice the size of the next largest group, namely those with musculo-skeletal disorders.
- Two-fifths of all working-age claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are aged less than 45.
- Scotland has more people in receipt of out-of-work benefits than the Great Britain on average but less than in some of the other regions.
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 benefits’ is a DWP term which covers the following benefits: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Carer’s Allowance. Note that this list is slightly different from ‘key benefits’, which also include Disability Living Allowance.
For each year, the total is broken down by type of claimant, namely: unemployed, sick or disabled, lone parents, carers and ‘other’. Note that a substantial proportion of the ‘others’ will actually be sick or disabled (i.e. some of those in receipt of Income Support).
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 Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.
The fourth graph shows, 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 map shows the same data but by data zone.
The fifth graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion of working-age people in receipt of key out-of-work benefits in Scotland compares with the rest of Great Britain, with the data shown separately according to whether or not the individuals are sick or disabled.
The data source for all the graphs and map is the DWP Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study. The data has been analysed to avoid double-counting of those receiving multiple benefits by matching data from individual samples. Note that this data source can only be used to estimate the numbers of adult recipients and not the number of their dependent children. Although the data purports to include numbers of children, those in receipt of some of the major benefits (e.g. Employment and Support Allowance) are always recorded as having either ‘zero’ or ‘unknown’ numbers of children. This is because the number of children does not affect the amount of benefit to which they are entitled. To get data on children, one therefore has to use another DWP survey. Note that, because this latter survey is relatively small, there is some uncertainty about the reliability of the resulting estimates.
Overall adequacy of the indicator: high. The data is thought to be very reliable and is based on information collected by the DWP for the administration of benefits.