Unemployed and working poor ‘missing out on full benefit entitlement’

2 Jan 18

Thousands of unemployed or extremely low earners in Britain are missing out on financial support because they are not claiming the benefits they are entitled to, according to a think-tank.

A group of about 300,000 people – mainly older people, and especially women aged between 55 and 64 years, and younger men – are missing out on claiming at least £73.10 a week, the Resolution Foundation claimed in a report out today.

The independent research institute has called on the Office for National Statistics to devise its own way of identifying how many people “on the edges of the labour market” are eligible for benefits and need support.

Author of the Falling through the cracks report Toby Phillips said the current controversial roll-out of universal credit, which combines six benefits into one, provides the ONS with an opportune time to “identify a proxy measure of people eligible and in need of support at the edges of the labour market”.

While most of the people missing out on benefits were unemployed, others were earning so little they were entitled to full support, the think-tank concluded.  

The foundation also believed those people could be missing out on other financial help, such as maternity grants, energy discounts and free school meals.

David Finch, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said policy makers have “generally been pretty relaxed about this gap” between the number of people reporting unemployed and those claiming unemployment benefit.

This was because it was assumed it was “largely due to people finding new work very quickly, or having other sources of financial support at home”.

Although, he added: “While there are good reasons for some people not to claim benefits, there are also around 300,000 forgotten unemployed people who are falling through the cracks.”

The think-tank examined official unemployment statistics and claimant count data for the report, sourcing information from the ONS and Department for Work and Pensions.

The current value of jobseekers allowance, or standard universal credit allowance, for those aged 25 and over is £73.10 per week.

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