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

 Year BCJE – Claimant count

‘000s

LF2I – Labour force survey – ‘000s
1971 649 1045
1972 719.3 1103
1973 511.3 933
1974 514.1 935
1975 789.5 1160
1976 1081.9 1399
1977 1150.4 1455
1978 1133.2 1438
1979 1063.7 1414
1980 1351 1819
1981 2152.4 2596
1982 2521.9 2861
1983 2761.9 3064
1984 2887.8 3212
1985 2997.2 3121
1986 3066.6 3135
1987 2779.6 2919
1988 2253.1 2422
1989 1768 2054
1990 1648.1 2033
1991 2267.8 2508
1992 2741.6 2799
1993 2876.6 2912
1994 2598.6 2660
1995 2289.7 2421
1996 2087.5 2280
1997 1584.5 1974
1998 1347.8 1776
1999 1248.1 1716
2000 1088.4 1577
2001 969.9 1480
2002 946.6 1518
2003 933 1476
2004 853.3 1412
2005 861.8 1451
2006 945 1657
2007 864.5 1642
2008 906.1 1771
2009 1527.7 2381
2010 1496.4 2476
2011 1534.4 2570
2012 1585.6 2549
2013 1421.9 2452
2014 1037.6 2004
2015 – Jul 791.7 1799

 

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