People in need of benefits more than doubles to 2.8 million since March

Posted 16 Jun 2020

The Office for National Statistics has release new workforce data today, which shows:

  • The number of people claiming employment related benefits continues to surge, reaching 2.8 million in May – a 125.5% rise since March. This includes those employed with low income or hours and those who are unemployed.

  • More than 600,000 people drop off the payroll in May compared to March 2020 (a fall of 2.1%) according to the latest HMRC Pay As You Earn Real Time Information.

  • People who lose their jobs will struggle to find new positions as the data suggests a decrease of approximately 60% in job vacancies for May compared with March 2020.

  • Today’s ONS data chimes with Department of Work and Pensions figures that showed a 40% rise in people applying for Universal Credit in April 2020. This takes the total number of new UC claims to 1.2 million since the start of lockdown.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Today’s figures warn of hundreds of thousands losing their jobs. Many of them will be private renters living in the least secure homes.

“While the evictions ban is providing some temporary respite, it isn’t stopping renters who’ve lost income from amassing home-threatening debts. Worse yet, with Universal Credit too low to pay average rents, those same renters are met with gaping holes in the government’s safety net. We speak to families every day who can’t keep the wolf from the door.

“Without more support, tens of thousands of renters are facing the very real prospect of homelessness when the evictions ban ends. To defuse this ticking time bomb, the government must increase benefit levels, so they cover average rents. It also needs to change the law to protect renters – by giving judges the power to stop people automatically losing their homes due to rent arrears.”


Notes to editors:

  • The data presented in this press release comes from numerous sources. Most data on the labour market is reported several months in arrears. While the three-month lockdown has impacted a lot on the way we live and work, interventions such as the furlough scheme and other employment support may be staving off real unemployment in the short term. Many businesses will be waiting to see the extent of the damage to the economy before making decisions on how to adjust to the post lock down world.

  • Similarly, even if some businesses expect to have to shed workers, they will need to give notice, or conduct consultations if they intend to make workers redundant.

  • Claimant count data has been produced by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help track the impact of the coronavirus lockdown. This experimental statistic tracks all who are claiming some form of work related (employment) benefit. Because DWP have made these types of benefits more generous, more may have decided to claim.

  • DWP also provide the number of Universal Credit (UC) claimants. This data is updated monthly.

  • Vacancies data comes from Office for National Statistics (ONS) Vacancy survey, which looks at the number of job roles being advertised. This data is seasonally adjusted, which means it accounts for the peaks and troughs in workforce demand seen at different times of the year (to account for seasonal work).

  • The real time pay as your earn data comes from PAYE payment system, used to pay most workers.

  • Weekly hours worked comes from ONS Labour Force Survey and will likely account for those working less due to lockdown or those on furlough.