Who's seeking work as a result of the benefit cap?

15 April 2014

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP): "Nearly half (45%) of those affected by the benefit cap say that they plan to look for work as a result."

The Sun: "Nearly half of those whose benefits were capped in Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms say they are now more likely to seek work".

Daily Mail: "Ipsos Mori poll found 45 per cent claimants now looking for work"

The Sun and the Daily Mail, among others, featured articles today on the effects of the benefit cap on claimants' behaviour. The statistics are from an ad hoc release published by the DWP, based on a survey by polling company Ipsos Mori.

Neither the Sun nor the Mail reported the figures correctly. 45% of people who say they're affected by the benefit cap plan to look for a job "to deal with being affected by the benefit cap".

This is more concrete than simply being "more likely" to seek work than before as the Sun claims, and it's not the same as the number currently looking for work as the Mail claims.

25% of people affected have already looked for a job

When asked what they had already done "in response to the reduction of [their] benefits", 25% of respondents said they had looked for a job, although the main response was that people had spent less on household essentials (32%).

38% of people affected have done more to find paid work since being affected

The survey also asked whether respondents felt they had done more or less or the same amount of certain activities since becoming affected. 38% said they had done more to find paid work, 9% said they had done less. 52% indicated they were putting in the same amount of effort.

45% of people affected plan to look for a job in the next year

When asked what they were planning to do in the next 12 months, 45% of people affected said they would look for a job "to deal with being affected by the benefit cap": much more than any other individual reason.

This is the 'nearly half' that's been quoted across the papers and by the DWP.

It doesn't show they are more likely to look for a job than before as the Sun claimed. 38% of people have 'done more' to find work than they used to, but the findings don't allow us to go any further.

Neither is the Mail right to say 45% are 'looking for work'. Planning to seek work and looking for it now are quite different things, and only a quarter of people affected say they've already looked for a job anyway.

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