The introduction of Universal Credit (UC) in 2013 has resulted in inconsistencies in the coverage of the Claimant Count across the UK, owing to the different speeds of the UC roll out. The Claimant Count figures have consequently been re-classified as experimental statistics by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This status is likely to continue until the roll out of Universal Credit is completed - currently expected in 2022. Care should therefore be taken when analysing and interpreting the figures.
As from April 2015, the Claimant Count has included all claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), plus those Universal Credit claimants who are required to seek work and be available for work. Generally, JSA claimants will reduce as Universal Credit is rolled out. The Claimant Count therefore provides a more comprehensive dataset of those persons claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed.
Under Universal Credit a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under Jobseeker's Allowance. As Universal Credit full service areas are rolled out across the UK, the number of people recorded as being on the Claimant Count is therefore likely to rise in those areas where full service has been implemented.
In January 2018, the Claimant Count in the United Kingdom totalled 826,545 people and the proportion of working age residents aged 16 to 64 years on the Claimant Count was 2.0%. Of the total, 511,125 were men and 315,420 were women. The proportion for men (2.5%) was higher than that for women (1.5%). Males accounted for 61.8% of the Claimant Count total. The total was up by 25,385 people (3.2%) on the previous month, and up by 55,920 persons (7.3%) over the previous year.
The total Claimant Count in the Lancashire-14 area was 22,620 in January 2018 and the proportion was 2.5%. Of the total, 13,850 were men and 8,770 were women. The proportion for men (3.0%) was higher than that for women (1.9%). Males accounted for 61.2% of the Claimant Count total. The total was up by 505 people (2.3%) on the previous month, and up by 2,595 persons (13.0%) over the previous year.
For the Lancashire-12 area, a total of 15,790 persons were on the Claimant Count in January 2018 and the proportion was 2.1%. Of the total, 9,490 were men and 6,300 were women. The proportion for men (2.6%) was higher than that for women (1.7%). Males accounted for 60.1% of the Claimant Count total. The total was up by 290 persons (1.9%) on the previous month, and up by 1,910 persons (13.8%) over the year.
Blackpool had the largest Claimant Count total (4,015) within the Lancashire-14 area in January 2018, followed by Blackburn with Darwen (2,820), Lancaster (2,505), Burnley (2,395) and Preston (2,160). Ribble Valley (290) had the lowest total.
Table 1: Total Claimant Count numbers  and proportions (%)  (16-64) , January 2018, and monthly and yearly changes.
Table 2: Male Claimant Count data. Table 3: Female Claimant Count data.
Notes:  All Claimant Count numbers are rounded to the nearest 5. Claimant Count numbers may not sum exactly to the combined number of people claiming JSA (published on Nomis) and the number of people claiming Universal Credit and required to seek work (published by DWP), owing to independent rounding.
 Proportions are calculated using the mid-2015 resident population aged 16-64.
 At the UK level, there may be a very small number of persons aged 65 or over contained within the Claimant Count figures. Over the last year, the number of persons aged 65 or over in the UK ranged between 30 and 50 people. In the Lancashire-14 area, the number of persons aged 65 or over has numbered only 5 for two of the months of November 2016 and December 2016.
Source: Office for National Statistics via the National On-line Manpower Information System (Nomis), Claimant Count dataset.
The Claimant Count proportions for the Lancashire-14 area (2.5%) and the Lancashire-12 area (2.1%) were greater than the UK proportion (2.0%) in January 2018.
Eight of the Lancashire-14 authorities had proportions that were above the UK figure (2.0%). These were Blackpool (4.7%), Burnley (4.5%), Blackburn with Darwen (3.1%), Hyndburn (2.8%), Lancaster (2.7%), Preston (2.3%), Pendle (2.1%) and Rossendale (2.1%). The top five were above the North West (2.5%) and Lancashire-14 (2.5%) proportions. Ribble Valley (0.8%) had the lowest proportion in the Lancashire-14 area.
Blackpool (6.0%), Burnley (5.0%), Blackburn with Darwen (3.8%), Hyndburn (3.3%) and Lancaster (3.3%) and had the largest male Claimant Count proportions in the Lancashire-14 area (3.0%) in January 2018 (UK male proportion = 2.5%).
Burnley (3.9%), Blackpool (3.4%), Blackburn with Darwen (3.2%), Hyndburn (2.2%) and Lancaster (2.2%) had the greatest female Claimant Count proportions in the Lancashire-14 area (1.9%) in January 2018 (UK female proportion = 1.5%).
Universal Credit full service provision rollout
Please note that Lancaster became a Universal Credit full service area in July 2016. This means that persons can process claims online, rather than via the phone. More complex claims are also processed. The result has been an acceleration in the number of persons claiming Universal Credit in Lancaster (in addition to substantial upward revisions over the summer months of 2016). A further impact in Lancaster has been the accelerated reduction in claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) since July 2016. Other benefits that are being replaced by Universal Credit may also be similarly affected.
Burnley became a Universal Credit full service area in May 2017 and West Lancashire in December 2017. A similar impact on Universal Credit numbers to that experienced in Lancaster is expected to be seen in Burnley and West Lancashire over the coming months.
The Universal Credit full service rollout schedule for each of the Lancashire-14 authorities is provided below in the Universal Credit background information PDF document (section 1.3).
Figure 1: Claimant Count proportions (percentages of working age residents aged 16 to 64) - January 2018
Notes: Please refer to the notes under table 1.
Source: Office for National Statistics via the National On-line Manpower Information System (Nomisweb), Claimant Count dataset
Claimant Count data versus official unemployment and small area data
Please note that the Claimant Count does not measure official unemployment. Official unemployment has a wider definition and includes those economically active unemployed persons who meet the definition criteria, and who do not claim benefits, either through choice, or for reasons of non-eligibility. Official unemployment figures therefore tend to be somewhat higher than the Claimant Count.
Official unemployment data is not available below the district/unitary authority level, whereas Claimant Count data is available for small geographic areas such as wards and smaller lower-layer super output areas (LSOAs). The Claimant Count therefore provides a good proxy for unemployment at the small local level. Generally, a high Claimant Count in an area is a good indicator of high unemployment in that area.
The UK Claimant Count total rose by 3.2% (25,385 persons) over the previous month. This was greater than the percentage increase recorded in the Lancashire-14 area of 2.3% (505 persons) and the percentage change seen for the Lancashire-12 area of 1.9%, where the total on the Claimant Count rose by 290 people.
Thirteen of the Lancashire-14 authorities recorded monthly increases to their Claimant Count totals. Lancaster recorded no monthly change. Totals rose the most in Blackpool (175 persons, 4.6%), Burnley (65 persons, 2.8%), Blackburn with Darwen (50 people, 1.8%), Hyndburn (40 persons, 3.0%) and South Ribble (40 persons, 4.4%).
The UK total Claimant Count proportion increased by 0.1 percentage point over the previous month to 2.0%. The proportion for the Lancashire-14 area also rose by 0.1 percentage point to 2.5%, however, the Lancashire-12 proportion (2.1%) was unchanged over the month.
Within the Lancashire-14 area, Blackpool and Burnley each recorded an increase to their total Claimant Count proportions of 0.2 percentage points over the month, whilst Blackburn with Darwen, Chorley, South Ribble, Wyre and Hyndburn each saw a monthly rise of 0.1 percentage point to their Claimant Count proportions.
The remaining seven authorities saw no change to their proportions over the month.
The UK Claimant Count total rose by 7.3% (55,920 persons) over the previous year. This was lower than the percentage increase recorded in the Lancashire-12 area of 13.8% (1,910 persons) and the 13.0% percentage rise (2,595 people) seen across the Lancashire-14 area.
Eleven of the Lancashire-14 authorities recorded yearly increases to their Claimant Count totals. Burnley (+725 persons, +43.4%) and Lancaster (+605 +31.8%) saw the largest increases in the Lancashire-14 area over the year, followed by Blackburn with Darwen (355 persons, 14.4%), Blackpool (335 persons, 9.1%), Preston (235 persons, 12.2%) and Hyndburn (135 persons, 11.0%). Burnley's increase accounted for 27.9% of the Lancashire-14 total rise (2,595 people), whilst Lancaster's accounted for 23.3%.
West Lancashire (75 people, 5.9%), Fylde (25 people, 3.6%) and Wyre (10 people, 0.9%) were the three Lancashire-14 authorities to recorded reductions to their Claimant Count totals over the year.
Nine of the eleven Lancashire-14 authorities that recorded yearly increases to their Claimant Count totals had percentage increases that were greater than the UK percentage increase of 7.3%, ranging from 9.1% in Blackpool (335 persons) to 43.4% in Burnley (725 persons).
The UK total Claimant Count proportion rose by 0.1 percentage point between January 2017 and January 2018 to 2.0%. The Lancashire-14 area saw its total Claimant Count proportion rise by 0.3 percentage points, to 2.5% over the year. The proportion for the Lancashire-12 area increased by 0.2 percentage points, to 2.1%.
Within the Lancashire-14 area, ten of the local authority areas saw yearly increases to their total Claimant Count proportions. Burnley (+1.4 percentage points), Lancaster (+0.6 percentage points), Blackburn with Darwen (+0.4 percentage points), Blackpool (+0.4 percentage points) and Hyndburn (+0.3 percentage points) recorded the largest rises over the year. West Lancashire (-0.1 percentage point) was the only authority in the area to record a yearly fall to its total Claimant Count proportion. Chorley, Wyre and Fylde had the same total Claimant Count proportions in January 2018 as they did in January 2017.
Further data analysis and information
Universal Credit background information PDF document (PDF 898 KB)
Page updated 23 February 2018