Change to Claimant Count Definition

In the UK and Regional Labour Market Statistical Bulletins published on 13 May 2015, ONS announced a change to the definition of the measurement of the Claimant Count from next month's releases …

"The headline measure of the Claimant Count will be changed in next month's release to include claimants of Universal Credit.

The Pathfinder for Universal Credit started on 29 April 2013 with the introduction of this new benefit in one Jobcentre Plus office. This has been extended to further Jobcentre Plus offices across Great Britain. A list of Jobcentres where Universal Credit is available can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Universal Credit will replace a number of means-tested benefits including the means-tested element of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA). It will not replace contributory based JSA.

The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. Between October 1996 and April 2013, the only unemployment-related benefit in the UK was Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and the Claimant Count was therefore a count of the number of people claiming JSA.

Following a consultation in 2012, it was decided that, with the introduction of Universal Credit, the Claimant Count would include:

  • people claiming contribution-based JSA (which is not affected by the introduction of Universal Credit)
  • people claiming income-based JSA during the transition period while this benefit is being gradually phased out
  • people claiming Universal Credit who are not working and who are subject to a full set of labour market jobseeker requirements, that is required to be actively seeking work and available to start work

Since July 2014, we have published two measures of the Claimant Count:

  • a measure that only includes JSA claimants (this National Statistic is currently the headline measure)
  • a new experimental measure which includes some claimants of Universal Credit

The experimental measure is still being developed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and it currently includes all out of work Universal Credit claimants including those who are not required to look for work (who should ideally be excluded from the Claimant Count).

The number of Jobcentre Plus offices introducing Universal Credit has increased substantially over the last few months.

Consequently we (ONS) have concluded that the experimental measure of the Claimant Count is becoming the best estimate of the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits. The experimental measure will therefore become the headline measure of the Claimant Count from next month's release, to be published on 17 June 2015.

It will not initially be possible to produce estimates of inflows and outflows or an age or duration breakdown for the new measure of the Claimant Count. However we will continue to produce an age and duration breakdown of Jobseeker's Allowance."

Impact on Nomis Datasets

Currently, all the datasets held within the Claimant Count theme on Nomis reflect the number of claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance only. Consequently, once ONS change the definition of the measurement of the Claimant Count, none of the existing Nomis datasets will reflect the new definition. These datasets will be renamed to indicate that they are datasets of claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance and not Claimant Count datasets.

At the same time a new dataset will be introduced that will contain seasonally adjusted Claimant Count series, including rates, based on the new definition, for the regions and countries of the UK. This dataset will follow the structure of the current "claimant count - seasonally adjusted" dataset, except without the inclusion of standard statistical regions. This dataset will not contain any not seasonally adjusted data.

It will not be possible at this stage to produce any other Claimant Count datasets following the new definition. ONS are working with DWP to secure access to appropriate data sources to combine with existing Jobseeker's Allowance datasets. As appropriate data becomes available, ONS and Nomis will expand the range of Claimant Count datasets published.

In the meantime, some sub-regional Claimant Count figures can be derived through adding not in employment Universal Credit figures, published by DWP to figures from the Jobseeker's Allowance with rates and proportions dataset from Nomis.

Until such time as additional datasets can be produced, tables relating to Out-Of-Work Benefits within Area Profiles will continue to contain the current data reflecting claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance only.