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 2023. 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.
Important notice: Claimant Count data revised downwards from January 2016 to December 2018
Owing to an error in the way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) counted the Universal Credit element of the Claimant Count, the Claimant Count figures have been corrected downwards from the January 2016 data to the December 2018 data, inclusive. Claimant Count data for this period which was downloaded prior to 19 February 2019 should not be used and the corrected data downloaded again. Claimant Count data for January 2019 onwards should now be correct. The Claimant Count data will however continue to undergo the usual monthly revision, following their initial 'provisional' release (see above).
Further details about the Universal Credit error are contained in the Statistical Notice published by the DWP on the 19 February 2019. A summary is also available on our Universal Credit web page. Please note the Universal Credit element within the Claimant Count only includes those Universal Credit claimants who are required to seek work and be available for work, so the corrected totals for the Claimant Count will be a subset of the corrected totals for Universal Credit as a whole.
In February 2019, the provisional Claimant Count in the United Kingdom totalled 1,068,630 people and the proportion of working age residents aged 16 to 64 years on the Claimant Count was 2.6%. Of the total, 634,795 were men and 433,835 were women. The proportion for men (3.1%) was higher than that for women (2.1%). Males accounted for 59.4% of the Claimant Count total. The total was up by 64,960 people (6.5%) on the previous month, and up by 203,280 persons (23.5%) over the year.
The total provisional Claimant Count in the Lancashire-12 area was 19,405 in February 2019 and the proportion was 2.6%. Of the total, 11,355 were men and 8,050 were women. The proportion for men (3.1%) was higher than that for women (2.2%). Males accounted for 58.5% of the Claimant Count total. The total had increased by 1,110 people (6.1%) on the previous month, and by 2,975 persons (18.1%) over the previous year.
For the Lancashire-14 area, a total of 27,940 persons were on the Claimant Count in February 2019 and the proportion was 3.1%. Of the total, 16,660 were men and 11,280 were women. The proportion for men (3.6%) was higher than that for women (2.5%). Males accounted for 59.6% of the Claimant Count total. The total was up by 1,490 persons (5.6%) on the previous month, and up by 4,475 persons (19.1%) over the year.
In the Lancashire-12 area, Burnley (2,860) had the largest provisional Claimant Count total in February 2019, followed by Preston (2,795) and Lancaster (2,750). Ribble Valley (335) had the lowest total.
The Claimant Count totals for Blackpool (4,390) and Blackburn with Darwen (4,145) were greater than all of the Lancashire-12 individual areas.
The Claimant Count proportion for the Lancashire-12 area (2.6%) was the same as UK proportion (2.6%) in February 2019, however, the proportion for the Lancashire-14 area (3.1%) was greater.
Four of the Lancashire-12 authorities had proportions that were above the UK figure (2.6%). These were Burnley (5.4%), Hyndburn (4.1%), Preston (3.0%) and Lancaster (3.0%). Ribble Valley (1.0%) had the lowest proportion in the Lancashire-12 area.
Blackpool (5.1%) and Blackburn with Darwen (4.5%) also had proportions that were greater than the UK figure (2.6%).
The proportions for Burnley, Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Hyndburn were also above the North West proportion (3.3%).
Table 1: Total Claimant Count numbers  and proportions (%)  (16-64) , February 2019 (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 from 2017 onwards are calculated using the mid-2017 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.
For men, Burnley (6.1%), Hyndburn (4.9%), Lancaster (3.6%) and Preston (3.6%) had the largest male Claimant Count proportions in the Lancashire-12 area (3.1%) in February 2019 (UK male proportion = 3.1%).
Blackpool (6.4%) and Blackburn with Darwen (5.4%) also had male Claimant Count proportions that were above the UK figure (3.1%).
For women, Burnley (4.6%), Hyndburn (3.3%), Lancaster (2.5%) and Preston (2.5%) had the greatest female Claimant Count proportions in the Lancashire-12 area (2.2%) in February 2019 (UK female proportion = 2.1%).
Blackpool (3.8%) and Blackburn with Darwen (3.5%) again had female Claimant Count proportions that were above the UK figure (2.1%).
Universal Credit full service provision roll out
Please note that Lancaster became a Universal Credit full service area in July 2016 - the first in the Lancashire-14 area. 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 people 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, which fell by 72.8% (or 618 persons) from to 849 people in July 2016, to 231 persons in July 2018. 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. Pendle, Ribble Valley and Rossendale all became Universal Credit full service areas in July 2018. Fylde, Wyre and Blackpool transitioned to UC full service areas in September 2018.
A similar impact on Universal Credit numbers and JSA claimants 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) - February 2019 (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 rose by 6.5% (64,960 persons) over the previous month. The Lancashire-12 area saw its Claimant Count total rise by 6.1% (1,0110 persons) over the month. The Lancashire-14 area recorded a monthly percentage increase of 5.6% (1,490 persons).
All of the Lancashire-12 authorities recorded monthly increases to their Claimant Count totals. The largest rises were recorded in Burnley (150 people, 5.5%), West Lancashire (150 people, 9.3%), Hyndburn (140 people, 7.5), Preston (135 people, 5.1%) and Lancaster (115 people, 4.4%).
Blackpool (205 people, 4.9%) and Blackburn with Darwen (175 people, 4.4%) also saw increases to their Claimant Count totals over the month.
The UK total Claimant Count proportion increased over the previous month by 0.2 percentage point to 2.6%. The Lancashire-14 proportion also rose by 0.2 percentage points over the month, to 3.1%. In the Lancashire-12 area, the proportion rose by a marginally lower 0.1 percentage point over the month, to 2.6%.
Within the Lancashire-12 area, Burnley and Hyndburn each recorded a monthly increase of 0.3 percentage points to their respective proportions. A further three areas each saw a monthly increase of 0.2 percentage points. Six areas each recorded an increase of 0.1 percentage point. Wyre was the only Lancashire-12 area to see no change to its proportions over the previous month.
The two unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool each recorded a monthly increase of 0.2 percentage points to their respective Claimant Count proportions over the previous month.
The UK Claimant Count total rose by 23.5% (187,755 persons) between February 2018 and February 2019. This was higher than the percentage increase recorded in the Lancashire-12 area of 18.1% (2,975 persons) and the 19.1% rise (4,475 people) seen across the Lancashire-14 area.
All of the Lancashire-12 authorities recorded yearly increases to their Claimant Count totals. Of these, Preston (+600 persons, +27.3%) saw the largest increase over the year, followed by Hyndburn (+550 persons, +37.8%), West Lancashire (+465, +35.6%) and Burnley (+380 persons, +15.3%).
Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority (+1,305 persons, +46.0%) saw the largest increase to its total in the broader Lancashire-14 area over the year. Blackpool recorded a yearly rise of 190 persons (4.5%).
Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority (46.0%), plus Hyndburn (37.8%), West Lancashire (35.6%) and Preston (27.3%) recorded yearly increases to their Claimant Count totals that were greater than the UK percentage increase of 23.5%. These four authorities were amongst the earliest in the Lancashire-14 area to have Universal Credit full-service provision rolled out.
The UK total Claimant Count proportion rose by 0.5 percentage points between February 2018 and February 2019 to 2.6%. The Lancashire-14 area also saw its total Claimant Count proportion rise by 0.5 percentage points, but rising to 3.1% over the year. The proportion for the Lancashire-12 area increased by a marginally lower 0.4 percentage points, rising to 2.6%.
Within the Lancashire-12 area, all of the local authority areas saw yearly increases to their total Claimant Count proportions. Hyndburn (+1.1 percentage points), Burnley (+0.7 percentage points), Preston (+0.6 percentage points) and West Lancashire (+0.6 percentage points) recorded the largest increases over the year. Again, these four areas were amongst the earliest in the Lancashire-12 area to have Universal Credit full-service provision rolled out.
Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority (+1.4 percentage points) also recorded a rise to its Claimant Count proportion over the year. It is also an area that has seen Universal Credit full-service rolled out early in the Lancashire-14 area.
The proportion for Blackpool unitary authority increased by 0.2 percentage points over the year.
Further data analysis and information
Universal Credit background information PDF document (PDF 898 KB)
Page updated 21 March 2019