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.
As the Claimant Count data now include those Universal Credit claimants who are required to seek work and be available for work, the initial publication of the Claimant Count figures are 'provisional'. As the Universal Credit figures are revised in the month after their initial publication, the Claimant Count figures are also now revised a month after their initial release.
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 May 2018, the provisional Claimant Count in the United Kingdom totalled 904,310 people and the proportion of working age residents aged 16 to 64 years on the Claimant Count was 2.2%. Of the total, 556,105 were men and 348,205 were women. The proportion for men (2.7%) was higher than that for women (1.7%). Males accounted for 61.5% of the Claimant Count total. The total was down by 22,375 people (2.4%) on the previous month, but up by 92,865 persons (11.4%) over the year.
The total provisional Claimant Count in the Lancashire-14 area was 23,945 in May 2018 and the proportion was 2.6%. Of the total, 14,625 were men and 9,320 were women. The proportion for men (3.2%) was higher than that for women (2.0%). Males accounted for 61.1% of the Claimant Count total. The total had decreased by 860 people (3.5%) on the previous month, but risen by 2,350 persons (10.9%) over the previous year.
For the Lancashire-12 area, a provisional total of 17,065 persons were on the Claimant Count in May 2018 and the proportion was 2.3%. Of the total, 10,270 were men and 6,795 were women. The proportion for men (2.8%) was higher than that for women (1.8%). Males accounted for 60.2% of the Claimant Count total. The total was down by 595 persons (3.4%) on the previous month, but up by 1,855 persons (12.2%) over the year.
Blackpool had the largest provisional Claimant Count total (3,845) within the Lancashire-14 area in May 2018, followed by Blackburn with Darwen (3,035), Lancaster (2,770), Burnley (2,665) and Preston (2,290). Ribble Valley (300) had the lowest total.
Table 1: Total Claimant Count numbers  and proportions (%)  (16-64) , May 2018 (provisional), 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 (2.6%) and the Lancashire-12 area (2.3%) were greater than the UK proportion (2.2%) in May 2018.
Seven of the Lancashire-14 authorities had provisional proportions that were above the UK figure (2.2%). These were Burnley (5.0%), Blackpool (4.5%), Blackburn with Darwen (3.3%), Lancaster (3.1%), Hyndburn (3.1%), Preston (2.5%) and Rossendale (2.3%). The top five were above the North West (2.8%) and Lancashire-14 (2.6%) proportions. Ribble Valley (0.9%) had the lowest proportion in the Lancashire-14 area.
For men, Burnley (5.7%), Blackpool (5.7%), Blackburn with Darwen (4.0%), Lancaster (3.7%), and Hyndburn (3.7%) had the largest provisional male Claimant Count proportions in the Lancashire-14 area (3.2%) in May 2018 (UK male proportion = 2.7%).
For women, Burnley (4.2%), Blackpool (3.3%), Lancaster (2.5%), Hyndburn (2.5%) and Blackburn with Darwen (2.5%) had the greatest provisional female Claimant Count proportions in the Lancashire-14 area (2.0%) in May 2018 (UK female proportion = 1.7%).
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, West Lancashire in December 2017 and Blackburn with Darwen and Hyndburn in February 2018. Preston and South Ribble became Universal Credit full service areas in March 2018 and Chorley in April 2018. A similar impact on Universal Credit numbers to that experienced in Lancaster is expected to be seen in these local authority areas 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) - May 2018 (provisional)
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 fell by 2.4% (23,375 persons), provisionally, over the previous month. This was lower than the percentage decreases recorded for the Lancashire-14 area of 3.5% (860 persons) and the Lancashire-12 area, of 3.4% (595 persons).
Eleven of the Lancashire-14 authorities recorded monthly reductions to their Claimant Count totals. Totals decreased the most in Blackpool (325 people, 7.8%), Lancaster (200 people, 6.7%), Burnley (170 people, 6.0%) and Wyre (50 persons, 4.7%).
Three of the Lancashire-14 authorities recorded monthly increases to their Claimant Count totals. The rises were in Blackburn with Darwen (55 people, 1.8%), Hyndburn (20 people, 1.3%) and Ribble Valley (10 persons, 3.4%).
The UK total Claimant Count proportion was unchanged over the previous month, at 2.2%. The proportion for the Lancashire-14 area fell by 0.1 percentage, to 2.6%. Similarly, the Lancashire-12 proportion also decreased by 0.1 percentage point over the previous month, to 2.3%.
Within the Lancashire-14 area, Blackpool and Burnley recorded the largest falls to their total Claimant Count proportions, each dropping by 0.3 percentage points over the month, followed by Lancaster (0.2 percentage points). South Ribble, Wyre, Fylde and Pendle each recorded a monthly decrease of 0.1 percentage point to their proportions. Contrary to this, Ribble Valley and Blackburn with Darwen each saw a monthly rise of 0.1 percentage point to their proportions.
The remaining five authorities in the Lancashire-14 area saw no change to their proportions over the previous month.
The UK Claimant Count total rose by 11.4% (92,865 persons), provisionally, over the previous year. This was lower than the percentage increase recorded in the Lancashire-12 area of 12.2% (1,855 persons) but higher than the 10.9% rise (2,350 people) seen across the Lancashire-14 area.
Eleven of the Lancashire-14 authorities recorded yearly increases to their Claimant Count totals. Burnley (+825 persons, +44.8%) and Lancaster (+475 +20.7%) saw the largest increases in the Lancashire-14 area over the year, followed by Blackburn with Darwen (+420 persons, +16.1%), West Lancashire (+220 persons, +16.5%) and Hyndburn (+145 persons, +10.5%). Burnley's increase accounted for 35.1% of the Lancashire-14 total rise (2,350 people), whilst Lancaster's accounted for 20.2%.
Wyre (-70 people, -6.5%), Fylde (-55 people, -8.0%) and South Ribble (-45 people, -4.5%) recorded reductions to their Claimant Count totals over the year.
Five 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 11.4%, ranging from 13.2% in Ribble Valley (35 persons) to 44.8% in Burnley (825 persons).
The UK total Claimant Count proportion rose by 0.2 percentage points between May 2017 and May 2018 to 2.2%. The Lancashire-14 area also saw its total Claimant Count proportion rise by 0.2 percentage points, to 2.6% over the year. The proportion for the Lancashire-12 area also increased by 0.2 percentage points, to 2.3%.
Within the Lancashire-14 area, ten of the local authority areas saw yearly increases to their total Claimant Count proportions. Burnley (+1.6 percentage points), Lancaster (+0.5 percentage points) and Blackburn with Darwen (+0.5 percentage points) recorded the largest rises over the year.
Wyre, Fylde and South Ribble each recorded a fall to their respective Claimant Count proportions of -0.1 percentage point over the year. Chorley had the same proportion in May 2018 as it did in May 2017.
Further data analysis and information
Universal Credit background information PDF document (PDF 898 KB)
Page updated 19 June 2018