Working-age out-of-work benefit recipients

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Up until 2008, the number of working-age claimants of out-of-work benefits had been falling steadily, from 360,000 in February 2000 to 310,000 in February 2008.
  • In the year to February 2009, however, numbers rose sharply, from 310,000 to 340,000.  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 more than half of all claimants.
  • Two-fifths of all claimants of out-of-work disability benefits have mental or behaviour disorders.  A further fifth have musculoskeletal disorders.  Although just over half of this latter group are men, this still means that only a tenth of all claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are men suffering from musculoskeletal disorders.  Any image of this group as being made up mainly of ‘older men with bad backs’ is therefore clearly misleading..
  • Two-fifths of all working-age claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are aged less than 45.
  • Twice as many working-age people in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil are in receipt of out-of-work benefits as in Ceredigion, Monmouthshire and Powys.
  • Wales has more people in receipt of out-of-work benefits than most of Great Britain (all bar the North East of England).  This is mainly because it has a high number of people who are both sick or disabled and out-of-work (higher than any other region).

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 super output area.

The fifth graph shows, for the latest year, how the proportion of working-age people in receipt of key out-of-work benefits in Wales 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.

External links