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Guide to the Claimant Count

Released: 14 November 2012 Download PDF

Abstract

The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits. The Claimant Count does not meet the internationally agreed definition of unemployment specified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The estimates are sourced from the Jobcentre Plus administrative system. The article was first published on 14 November 2012 and has subsequently been updated. It was last updated on 17 June 2015.

More detail

The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits:

  • between January 1971 (when comparable estimates start) and September 1996 it is an estimate of the number of people who would have claimed unemployment related benefits if Jobseeker's Allowance had existed at that time

  • between October 1996 and April 2013 the Claimant Count is a count of the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

  • between May 2013 and October 2013 the Claimant Count includes all claimants of Universal Credit (including those who were in work) as well as all JSA claimants

  • from November 2013 the Claimant Count includes all out of work Universal Credit claimants as well as all JSA claimants

The Claimant Count does not meet the internationally agreed definition of unemployment specified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The estimates are sourced from the JobCentre Plus administrative system.

The Claimant Count includes people who claim Jobseeker’s Allowance but who do not receive payment. For example some claimants will have had their benefits stopped for a limited period of time by Jobcentre Plus. Some people claim Jobseeker’s Allowance in order to receive National Insurance Credits.

As well as numbers of people claiming benefits, estimates are also available for Claimant Count rates. Claimant Count rates for the UK as a whole, and for the regions and countries of the UK, are calculated as the Claimant Count level divided by the sum of the Claimant Count plus the total number of jobs. 

Claimant Count estimates for the UK as a whole, and for the regions and countries of the UK, are available seasonally adjusted by sex. Claimant Count estimates for the UK are available on a comparable basis from 1971. Claimant Count levels and rates are published each month in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin and on the NOMIS ® website.

People who qualify for JSA through their National Insurance contributions are eligible for a personal allowance for a maximum of six months. This is contribution-based JSA. People who do not qualify for contribution-based JSA can claim a means-tested allowance. This is income-based JSA which is being gradually replaced by Universal Credit. Those claiming JSA enter into a Jobseeker’s agreement. This sets out the action they will take to find work and to improve their prospects of finding employment.

Claimant Count rates for the UK as a whole, and for the regions and countries of the UK, are calculated as the number of claimants who are resident in each area as a percentage of workforce jobs plus the claimant count. Workforce jobs are the sum of:

  • employee jobs

  • self-employment jobs

  • HM Armed Forces

  • Government supported trainees

The largest part, the employee jobs, represents jobs by the location of the employer. The estimate of workforce jobs therefore, tends to reflect the location of jobs rather than the residence of jobholders.

There is a large degree of overlap between the Claimant Count and unemployment although the latter figures are generally much higher. People who are not claimants can appear among the unemployed if they are not entitled to unemployment related benefits. For example:

  • people who are only looking for part-time work

  • young people under 18 are not usually eligible to claim JSA

  • students looking for vacation work

  • people who have left their job voluntarily

Some people recorded in the Claimant Count would not be counted as unemployed. For example, in certain circumstances people can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance while they have relatively low earnings from part-time work. These people would not be unemployed.

Background notes

  1. Enquiries relating to the Claimant Count should be directed to Bob Watson, Labour Market Division, Office for National Statistics.

    Phone +44 (0)1633 455070

    Email bob.watson@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Supporting information

Further information

Interpreting Labour Market Statistics - The purpose of this article is to help users of labour market statistics interpret the statistics and highlight some common misunderstandings.
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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