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16 July, 2020 Open access

Number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits increased by more than half a million in May 2020

New DWP statistics show claimant count reached almost 2.7 million, more than 30 per cent higher than the previous month's total

The number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits - jobseeker's allowance and universal credit with a 'searching for work' conditionality requirement - increased by more than half a million in May 2020, according to new DWP statistics.

In Alternative Claimant Count statistics, January 2013 to May 2020 - that measures the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits by modelling what the count would have been if universal credit had been in place since 2013 - the DWP highlights that the number of claimants increased by 562,000 in May 2020 to stand at 2.69 million, a 31.3 per cent increase the DWP says can be attributed to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the government’s response.

NB - statistics for the more recent period up to 11 June 2020 have also been published today by the Office for National Statistics that show a slight decrease in the claimant count between May and June 2020, falling by 28,100 (1.1 per cent) to 2.6 million.

Of the 2.69 million unemployed claimants in May 2020 -

Claimant count figures are also provided for the whole period from 2013 -

Elsewhere, for the first time in this statistical series, the DWP includes estimates of the proportion of unemployment-related benefit claimants who are working. Of the 2.69 million claimants in May 2020,14.6 per cent had evidence of earnings or hours worked, compared to 16.7 per cent in May 2019 and 12.5 per cent in May 2015.

NB - also published today, equivalent claimant count statistics for Northern Ireland show that, in June 2020, 63,100 people (6.8 per cent of the workforce) were claiming, a decrease of 1,200 (1.9 per cent) from the previous month’s revised figure. However, for a second month, the total remains at a level last seen in 2012 and 2013.

For more information, see Alternative Claimant Count statistics January 2013 to May 2020 from