By Gareth Bevan
On 17/03/2006 at 15:32
DWP Benefits data - proxy for worklessness?
I've been looking at the new DWP benefits dataset at SOA level. I've noticed that there is a "total claimants" variable within the "benefit claimants - working age clients for small areas" dataset. Is it acceptible to use this as a proxy for worklessness? Which benefits make up the dataset? Thanks.
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On 23/03/2006 at 17:45
|The benefits which make up this dataset are included in the background information for the data set. You can access this from the information panel which is displayed after you select the data set or directly from the link below:
With regards to worklessness, the DWP background data for the data set includes the following:
"The main advantage of this dataset is that the double counting of claimants of multiple benefits has been removed so that users will get a more accurate picture of benefit claiming and worklessness at a small area level."
It would be interesting to get the views from researchers as to what extent this data can be used as a proxy for worklessness?
By Gareth Bevan
On 24/03/2006 at 10:52
|Thanks for the response.
We had previously calculated our own version of 'worklessness' which we had been told counted 'mutually exclusive' benefits (i.e. only one benefit from the four we counted could be claimed at once). Recently we were informed that combinations of our four benefits could, in fact, be claimed at the same time. So we've been without a 'worklessness' total since.
The fact that the new dataset removes the double counting which was inherent in our earlier calculations is a great help. We did a quick analysis at SOA level to compare the new dataset with our existing 'incorrect' data, and found that most of the SOA totals had decreased (presumably because the double counting was removed). Around a quarter of the SOAs in our area had seen an increase in their 'worklessness' total, though overall in our area the 'worklessness' count decreased by 34,000 people.
Generally we'd probably be happy to use this as a proxy for worklessness (stating the obvious caveats), but it would be useful to see whether other people will be using the data in this way.
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On 10/10/2006 at 18:52
|One problem with using the total claimants is that the 'disabled' category refers to claimants of Disability Living Allowance and nothing else. DLA is available to people with mobility problems and/or with care needs - work is not a primary factor. Most people seem to exclude the disabled category. Others exclude the Bereaved (worklessness not being a condition) and we usually exclude carers as well - roughly on the grounds that they might sensibly be described as employed in caring for their relative. Excluding these three groups gives a workless definition related to targets for welfare to work action.|
By Colin Wojtowycz
On 06/12/2007 at 14:45
|I've been looking for a definition of worklessness and can't find a satisfactory one on the internet. A colleague described it to me as people of working age who are not in work. I assume this includes unemployed people who are economically active and economically inactive people. Does this sound right?|
On 06/12/2007 at 18:06
|Colin - Generally the term is used to refer to everyone not in employment. However, because in employment as used in the LFS/APS includes everyone who has worked at least 1 hour per week, some argue that worklessness should be extended to pick up those in employment who are only working a few hours per week. It would be interesting to get more input to this discussion from anyone researching in this area.
ONS tend to use the term worklessness with respect to households and define a workless household as a workingage household where no one aged 16 or over is in employment. They publish a quarterly report which you can download at:
There are plans to include this data in a new Household APS dataset on Nomis. However, this will not happen till after the APS reweighting exercise is completed which is scheduled for mid-2008.
NERIP (the North East Regional Information Partnership) held a workshop on Using statistics to measure worklessness in 2006. You can download the papers from this at:
The Jon Carling presentation includes the Social Exclusion Unit definition.
On 07/12/2007 at 14:58
|There are a number of different definitions of worklessness, but the one I tend to use in relation to benefits data is the same as the one in DWP statistics that refers to 'Income replacement' benefits - those that are paid as replacement for an earned income. These are: JSA, IB, IS, SDA, CA. Using the Statistical Group analysis this includes Jobseekers, Incapacity benefits, lone parents, Carers and other income related.
The 'Disabled' category refers to those claiming Disability Living Allowance and no Income Related benefit - many of those in receipt particularly of the mobility element are working. Bereavement Allowance is also not conditioned on being out of work.
The total figure includes these two groups who may be in work.
Of course some can be claiming Income replacement benefits and working under 16 hours and therefore be classed under APS definitions as in work and under benefit definitions as workless, but the numbers here are likely to be small.
In APS terms I include the unemployed and the economically inactive of working age. The rate should be based on the working age population.
I don't go with those who want to restrict the term to exclude those who say they do not want to work on the grounds that large numbers of the inactive who say they do not want to work are found in work later on using the Labour Force Survey longitudinal datasets from the Data Archive - wanting to work is not a great predictor of later on being in work.
On 30/01/2009 at 16:56
|I have used paulbivand's definition to generate a total count of worklessness in a small area - 5 LSOAs. The total seems large and gives a total worklessness rate of 67%. While it's an NDC area, it still seems overly high. I am concerned that there may be double counting across IS and other benefits.|
On 30/01/2009 at 16:58
|Er, re above the workless rate should be 37%, the economically active rate would be 63%. Still rather high.|
On 30/01/2009 at 22:39
The key point to check is that you use the "benefit claimants - working age clients for small areas" dataset, and select the statistical group breakdowns from the available variables. As long as you do this there will be no double counting as each claimant is assigned to only one statistical group.
What you must not do is add together the totals from individual benefit datasets - that would give you double counting.
The 37% figure you mention is not unreasonably high especially as it is an NDC area. I have had a look at the Neighbourhood Statistics dataset "Benefits Data Indicators: Working Age Client Group, 2006". This includes rates at LSOA by stat group. Creating Paul's worklessness definition using these data gives 790 LSOAs which have a rate of 37% or higher.
It does not follow that if you have a worklessness rate of 37%, the economic activity rate would be 63%. Many of the people in the workless group will be available to work so should be counted as economically active.
On 02/02/2009 at 15:47
|At local authority level (not the small area dataset) DWP have been helpful.
If you look at statistical group and then 'user defined' you will find in the drop down box (apart from 'my definitions', Department for Work and Pensions (ELMPD) (1298) Key Working Age Benefits. Further click down into 'Edit' and you get a list, which is much the same as the one I use.
This excludes those getting Disability Living Allowance and no other benefit, Carers and Bereavement benefit. 'Other Income Related Benefit; is now largely Pension Credit, as you can see in the local authority dataset by examining age and gender - there are a lot of men over 60.
By Colin Wojtowycz
On 05/07/2010 at 14:47
Which measure is most appropriate for worklessness proxy - total working age benefits or out of work benefits?
Warrington Facts and Figures:
On 05/07/2010 at 17:21
Paul's response from the 7th December (above) gives a very good summary of the issues you should consider. I have included the DWP explanatory note about the out-of-work benefits, measure below which gives their view.
The out-of-work benefits series contains the following statistical groups:
• Job Seeker
• ESA and incapacity benefits
• Lone Parent
• Others on income related benefit
These groups have been chosen to best represent a count of all those benefit recipients who cannot be in full-time employment as part of their condition of entitlement. Those claiming solely Bereavement Benefits or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are not included as these are not out-of-work or income based benefits. DLA is paid to those needing help with personal care. These people can, and some will, be in full-time employment. If DLA claimants are also in receipt of JSA, IS, ESA or Incapacity Benefits in addition to DLA they will be counted under the relevant statistical group.
In addition, we exclude those claiming solely carer’s benefits or claiming carer’s benefits alongside income support, as DWP does not pursue active labour market policies for this group. Carer’s benefits are paid to those with full time caring responsibilities. The group entitled to Carer’s benefits alongside Income Support (IS) includes around 86,000 claimants and has been stable over time.
Note that the Nomis series is slightly different to that published in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Market Statistics table 25, and on the DWP website at http://188.8.131.52/100pc/wa/tabtool_wa.html (against the link entitled "One-Click" Key Out-of-Work Benefits) with regards to how the Job Seekers element is derived. The Nomis series is based on data from a single dataset so used DWP Jobseeker's Allowance numbers; the other two series use the ONS claimant count for Jobseeker's Allowance numbers. Details of the difference between these series can be found at:
On 15/09/2011 at 10:54
|Apologies if this is blindingly obvious, is there a way to obtain an accurate figure of the number of children affected both at LA and LSOA level from the out of work benefits data?|
By ONS Labour Market
On 15/09/2011 at 11:47
|DWP publish a Children in Out-of-work Benefit Households release, which includes datasets of counts by LA and LSOA. It would be worth looking at this to see whether the published official figures meet your needs before making conclusions from your own analysis.