Data released this week by the Office for National Statistics shows that, in October 2016, Bexley’s active benefit claimant count (those in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit) fell by 10 compared to September 2016 to stand at 2,015.
Source: ONS – Claimant Count and Jobseeker’s Allowance data
As has been an ongoing trend, estimates suggest this fall was driven by a decrease in the number of residents claiming JSA while the number of residents claiming Universal Credit continued to increase.
These estimates suggest 85 fewer active benefit claimants in receipt of JSA, compared to September 2016, but an additional 75 Universal Credit claimants leading to the -10 net change. As a result over 3 in 10 of Bexley’s active benefit claimants are now in receipt of Universal Credit, with its presence most strongly felt in active benefit claimants aged 18 to 24 where almost two thirds are claiming Universal Credit.
The fall in the active benefit claimant count is typical of the time of year as seasonal jobs start, although a fall of 10 is not as strong as has been seen in previous years. As stated in previous releases, this is likely in-part due to the benefit eligibility differences between JSA and Universal Credit, which was introduced to the borough in February this year.
Still, after a period of positive or flat active claimant count growth, it is a good to a see a return to negative growth that, if previous seasonal trends apply, should continue to fall until the end of the calendar year and could return Bexley’s active benefit claimant count to a sub-2,000 figure.