38% of Universal Credit claimants are in work

21 November 2023
What was claimed

Around half of people who are claiming Universal Credit are in work.

Our verdict

This is a slight overstatement. As of September 2023 38% of Universal Credit claimants were employed.

“Half of the people who are claiming Universal Credit, around half of those people, are also in work”.

In an interview on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg [45:25] at the weekend, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves claimed that around half of people claiming Universal Credit are also in work.

According to the latest figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions for September 2023, across Great Britain 38% of Universal Credit claimants were employed, so closer to one third than to a half.

Since the Universal Credit system was first launched in 2013, it has never been the case that half of all people on Universal Credit are employed.

Prior to the pandemic approximately 35% of Universal Credit claimants were in employment, increasing to a peak of 41.5% during the pandemic, when the number of households claiming Universal Credit increased sharply.

As of September 2023, there were a total of 6,096,216 people on Universal Credit in Great Britain, of whom 2,314,463 were in employment.

It’s worth noting that the Universal Credit system is still in the process of being rolled out—the House of Commons Library estimates that 74% of households in Great Britain receiving welfare support are on Universal Credit, with the remaining 26% still on “legacy” benefits and tax credits (such as Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, and Jobseeker’s Allowance).

Image courtesy of JJ Ellison

We deserve better than bad information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Rachel Reeves to ask her not to repeat this claim.

Rachel Reeves did not respond.

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