Working age benefits


At the national level in February 2016, the claimants of working age benefits amounted to 11.8% of the working age population, whilst for the Lancashire-14 area, the rate was higher at 13.6%. In Burnley, and the two unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, the rates were above 17.0%. For Blackpool, the rate of 21.7% was the second highest in the country.

Please note that universal credit claimants are not included in the results in table 1, and the introduction of universal credit has reduced the numbers claiming the other benefits that are included in these figures. This is having a detrimental effect on the usefulness of the results quoted in this article, because the numbers do not include this important working age benefit.



The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), via their online Tabulation Tool releases local authority area data for the numbers of working age benefit claimants. The results are also published via the National Online Manpower Information Service.

The benefit results are arranged hierarchically and claimants are assigned to the topmost benefit that they receive. Thus, someone receiving both bereavement benefit and disability living allowance would be classified as 'disabled'.

Statistical group
Jobseekers Jobseeker's allowance claimants
Employment and support allowance, and incapacity benefits[1] Employment and support allowance, incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance
Lone parents Income support claimants with a child under 16 and no partner
Carers Carer's allowance claimants 
Others in income-related benefit Other income support (including IS disability premium) or pension credit
Disabled Disability living allowance, attendance allowance or industrial injuries benefits 
Bereaved Widow's benefit, bereavement benefit or industrial death benefit claimants 

[1] Employment and support allowance replaced incapacity benefit and income support paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008. Universal credit is a working-age benefit that is growing in importance. This benefit is not unfortunately included among the list of working-age benefits. 

Lancashire, regional and national results

For Great Britain as a whole in February 2016, the working age benefit caseload was just above 4.7 million, or 11.8% of the working age population (Table 1). For the North West region the number of claimants was 630,250 or 14.0% of the working age population.

For the Lancashire-14 area, the number amounted to 124,250 or 13.6% of the working age population. High percentage rates were recorded in in Burnley (17.3%), along with the two unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen (17.4%) and especially Blackpool (21.7%). This contributed to the Lancashire-14 area recording a rate that was 1.8 percentage points above the GB average.

Table 1: Working-age benefits (caseload), February 2016

   February 2016 (count at month's end) Percentage of working age population Rank out of 380 authorities across Great Britain
Burnley 9,360 17.3 26
Chorley 6,970 9.9 209
Fylde 4,660 10.4 196
Hyndburn 8,020 16.1 47
Lancaster 10,190 11.3 158
Pendle 7,890 14.3 80
Preston 12,360 13.3 103
Ribble Valley 2,370 6.8 335
Rossendale 5,840 13.4 99
South Ribble 6,190 9.1 244
West Lancashire 7,730 11.2 164
Wyre 7,800 12.4 128
Lancashire-12 89,370 12.1 -
Blackburn with Darwen 16,050 17.4 25
Blackpool 18,830 21.7 2
Lancashire-14 124,250 13.6 -
North West 630,250 14.0 -
Great Britain 4,718,280 11.8 -
Source National Online Manpower Information Service  Percentages of population receiving state benefits have been calculated using populations aged 16-64 for both men and women. The age at which women reach state pension age is gradually increasing from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and April 2020. Hence, until April 2020, some women included in the population figure are not eligible to be part of the count of working age benefit claimants. There will be some time series discontinuity over this period, with trends partly reflecting the changing eligibility criteria.
Rates for local authorities are calculated by using mid-year resident population estimates (2014) for people aged 16-64.

Because universal credit claimants are not included in the results in table 1, yearly change results are now impacted by people moving over to this benefit. In the year to February 2016, the working age benefit caseload fell by 6.3% in the Lancashire-14 area, 6.9% in the North West and 5.7% at the GB level.  Universal credit was rolled out in the North West earlier than some other parts of the country.Out of 380 authorities across the country, Blackpool had the second highest claimant rate while Blackburn with Darwen and Burnley were in 25th and 26th positions respectively. In contrast, the 6.8% rate for Ribble Valley placed it in 335th position.

As the universal credit numbers continue to increase in Lancashire and other parts of the country, this working benefits article will reduce in value unless the universal credit numbers are added to the working age benefit results. 

Results at Census Output Area level

The Department for Work and Pensions formerly produced experimental figures for Census Output areas, but have now suspended their publication while Universal Credit is being rolled out

Page updated September 2016