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Claimant Count

The Claimant Count is a measure of the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. It is based on administrative data from the benefits system. Although not an official measure of unemployment it does provide a timely indication of unemployment.

The chart above plots claimant count data for Somerset, the South West and the UK. The figures relate to the proportion of claimants aged 16-64. Click to slide 2 to view a chart comparing lower-tier local authority areas in Somerset over the same period. Right click on either chart to select and view the underlying data in table form.

About the data

The claimant count has risen substantially across all Somerset districts from March – May 2020. As of May 2020, the claimant count in Somerset was 16,590, an increase of 22% from April 2020. The claimant count in Somerset in March was 2.3%, rising to 5.1% in May 2020. At the lower-tier local authority area in Somerset, South Somerset had the lowest claimant rate (4.7), followed by Somerset West and Taunton (4.9). Sedgemoor and Mendip, had the highest claimant rate of 5.6%. Sedgemoor has had the highest claimant count rate of all Somerset districts since 2011. All Somerset districts have a claimant count rate below the national rate 6.4%

The claimant count in the South West in March was 2.2% compared to the National average of 3.0%, the South West increased to 5.4% in May 2020 compared to National average with 6.4%.

The age group 25-49 has seen the largest number of claimants, this age group is the largest group which make up 47.9% of the working age population (16-64 years). 2.8% of the 25-49 age group are claiming whereas 1% of the 16-24 age group are claiming.

Before 2013 the claimant count was measured using the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), but following the introduction of Universal Credit, the Claimant Count is now measured as the number of people claiming JSA plus the number of Universal Credit claimants who are required to look for work. Indeed, since Universal Credit’s roll out across various regions in the country in 2016 the national claimant average has steadily risen.

This methodological change to the claimant count has had important statistical implications. Between 2012 and the end of 2016 Somerset’s claimant count consistently tracked just below the South West average and significantly below the UK average. However, between January 2016 and April 2018 Somerset’s claimant count more than doubled, from 1.1 to 2.4 as Universal Credit was introduced across the county.

As Universal Credit has been fully implemented across the rest of the country in the past year however, the claimant rate for England has risen, hitting a rate of 6.5 in May 2020. The South West average had also risen over the last year, reaching 5.4 as of May 2020.

Please Note:

The Claimant Count is based on monthly extracts from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administrative systems, and headline figures are published in the monthly UK labour market release. Therefore, the figures presented here may not be the most current. Current data can always be found on the Nomis website.

The ONS has noted that the measure of people receiving Universal Credit is still being developed by the Department for Work and Pensions. Consequently, this component of the total Claimant Count does not yet correctly reflect the target population of unemployed claimants and is subject to revisions. For this reason, the Claimant Count is currently designated as Experimental Statistics.
Source: ONS, NOMIS, Claimant Count By Sex and Age.  Population Estimates (2018)