Long-term working-age recipients of out-of-work benefits
- In February 2011, 290,000 working-age people had been receiving a key out-of-work benefit for two years or more.
- This number is less than that of a decade ago (340,000). It remains to be seen whether the recent rise in all unemployed claimants (see the indicator on all recipients of out-of-work benefits) will have a significant impact on the number of long-term claimants.
- Sickness or disability is overwhelmingly the single most important reason why working-age people claim out-of-work benefits over a long period. Three-quarters of working-age people – 220,000 people – receiving an out-of-work benefit for two years or more are classified as sick or disabled. Only a very small are officially unemployed (3%).
- Almost half of all long-term claimants of out-of-work disability benefits have mental or behaviour disorders. This is more than twice the size of the next largest group, namely those with musculo-skeletal disorders.
- Long-term sickness or disability, as measured by people claiming out-of-work disability benefits for two years or more, is by no means mainly confined to people coming up to retirement. Just a third of those claiming these benefits for two years or more are aged over 55. A further third are aged between 45 and 54 and the remaining third are aged under 45.
For all the graphs, the data is for the month of February of each year.
The first graph shows all those of working age who were in receipt of a 'key out-of-work benefit' for two years or more.
'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 long-term claimants of key out-of-work benefits are sick or disabled. In this context, the second graph shows, for the latest year, a breakdown by reason for those who have, for two years or more, been in receipt of Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance (recipients of Employment and Support Allowance are not included as the data for this benefit by reason is not currently available).
The third graph shows, for the latest year, an age breakdown for those who have, for two years or more, been in receipt of Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance (recipients of Employment and Support Allowance are not included as the data for this benefit by age is not currently available).
The data source for all the graphs 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.
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.
- See the 2007 IFS report entitled A survey of the UK benefit system.
- See the DWP site on benefit statistics.