Claimant count – unemployment

The claimant count records the number of people receiving unemployment benefits from the government. In the UK, the claimant count currently measures everyone who receives Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). To receive JSA, the applicant must be actively seeking work and provide evidence and commitment of efforts to find work.

The claimant count method is one of two main measures of unemployment. The other method is the ILO Labour Force survey of unemployment.

claimant-count

July 2015-  Claimant count 2.3%. ILO Labour force survey 5.5% – ONS BCJE

In recent decades, the gap between the claimant count method and the Labour Force method has widened. This reflects the fact that it has become more difficult to receive Jobseekers allowance (JSA.

Therefore, people may be classed as unemployed (actively seeking work), but not entitled to JSA.

The claimant count method excludes

  • People who are only looking for part-time work
  • People who are not able/willing to visit the local job centre every week and meet criteria for actively seeking work.
  • People who left their previous job voluntarily.
  • People who are on training schemes.
  • Students looking for vacation work.
  • Income-based JSA is means tested. People with savings of over £16,000 or cash income can be denied means-tested JSA. Income-based JSA includes examining the income of parents if you are under 24 and live with parents.
  • Contribution-based JSA is dependent on whether you have paid enough class I NI contributions in the previous two years. If you have not paid enough NI, you will not be entitled to this.
  • People who chose not to apply for benefits and sign up to the JSA commitment.
  • People under 18

Problems with claimant count

  • In July 2015, UK claimant count was 2.3% – yet, the UK economy is far from full employment – given interest rates at 0.5% and CPI inflation of 0.5%.
  • The claimant count method is under-estimating the true level of unemployment because many people are actively seeking a job, are not eligible or do not feel it is worth doing.
  • Changes to benefit criteria can lead to fluctuations in the rate, not related to changes in unemployment. Since 1991, the gap between the Labour Force Survey and the claimant count rate has widened due to changes in the criteria for receiving unemployment.

Cost of unemployment benefits

In 2014 the public expenditure survey, the total cost of unemployment benefit payments fell from £5.5 bn to £4.9 bn

Unemployment benefit spending compared to social security spending.

UK - benefit-spending

UK benefit spending

Unemployment benefit is now dwarfed by housing benefit

Fraudulent Unemployment benefit claims

It is possible that the claimant count could overstate the level of unemployment because people could collect JSA while also having a job.

However, the levels of estimated benefit fraud are quite low.

overpayment-benefits

According to gov.uk, in 2012/13, 4.6% of unemployment benefit was estimated to be overpaid or £230m out of total cost of £5bn

Source: DWP 2012/23 | Via blog at LSE

Total claimant count

claimant count total

  • 791,700 claiming JSA in July 2015

Total unemployment since 1971

 YearBCJE – Claimant count

‘000s

LF2I – Labour force survey – ‘000s
19716491045
1972719.31103
1973511.3933
1974514.1935
1975789.51160
19761081.91399
19771150.41455
19781133.21438
19791063.71414
198013511819
19812152.42596
19822521.92861
19832761.93064
19842887.83212
19852997.23121
19863066.63135
19872779.62919
19882253.12422
198917682054
19901648.12033
19912267.82508
19922741.62799
19932876.62912
19942598.62660
19952289.72421
19962087.52280
19971584.51974
19981347.81776
19991248.11716
20001088.41577
2001969.91480
2002946.61518
20039331476
2004853.31412
2005861.81451
20069451657
2007864.51642
2008906.11771
20091527.72381
20101496.42476
20111534.42570
20121585.62549
20131421.92452
20141037.62004
2015 – Jul791.71799

 

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