UK benefits claims show big increase in April

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According to some data released by the ONS*, the number of benefits claims in the UK showed a big increase in April.

What are the numbers?

Between March and April 2020, the numbers of people claiming unemployment or low pay related benefits increased from;

  • 1.24 million to 2.09 million people
  • In percentage terms, increased from 3.5% to 5.8% of the UK workforce

So the numbers of people claiming such benefits jumped by 69% in one month!

What benefits does this cover?

Unemployment and pay related benefits includes Universal Credit and Jobseekers Allowance.

Does this mean unemployment has jumped?

Likely, but it’s too early to tell.  A large number of people claiming Universal Credit will still be working, however the way this data is recorded is meant to show mostly those of us looking for work.

The data released by the ONS is classified as ‘experimental data’ which means the figures are not part of their Official data, and may be revised.

However, the numbers provided do show early indication of a large increase in benefit claims in the UK.

According to the ONS;

“The experimental Claimant Count data, which cover claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance and those claimants in the UC “searching for work” conditionality, show that there was a 69.1% increase in the number of claims between March and April, taking the level to over 2 million. The IHS Markit UK Household Finance Index for April 2020 shows that the coronavirus pandemic has caused households’ perceptions of employment incomes and job security to decline.”

UK economy starting to show a big decline

According to the ONS;

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been a major shock to the UK economy. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR)’s three-month lockdown scenario analysis forecasts…the unemployment rate to reach 10.0% by Quarter 2 2020, before gradually reducing to just below 6.0% by the end of 2021.”

Whilst the quote above is a forecast and may change, it seems clear that the economic effects of the lockdown implemented to combat the Covid 19 health emergency are likely to be dramatic.  The reported in increase in benefit claims seems to provide further evidence for this.

Notes and Sources

The ONS is the Office National Statistics, who are the government appointed agency that put together official data on the economy.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/outofworkbenefits/timeseries/bcje/unem

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/outofworkbenefits/timeseries/bcjd/unem

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/may2020#economic-commentary

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/may2020#economic-commentary