Welfare and pensions

Benefit claimants

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) publishes a statistical summary every three months which gives an overview of how many people are claiming each kind of benefit and in some cases a breakdown of their personal characteristics.

The DWP also produces tables that show the number of people claiming each benefit as far back as the Second World War as well as projected caseloads up to 2062. These can also provide breakdowns of claimants by age.

Detailed figures for how many people claim each rate or type of a given benefit are available via the DWP’s Stat-Xplore tool.

Benefits spending

Most benefit and pension payments are administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), with the exception of Child Benefit and tax credits which are organised by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Figures for spending on most kinds of benefit, as well as for the number of people claiming, are published by the DWP. These date back to the Second World War and are also projected into the future. In addition, they can be viewed in simple cash terms or real terms (accounting for price inflation). They can also provide breakdowns of spending by age group.

Child Benefit and tax credit statistics are published separately.

Detailed figures for the amounts spent on each rate or type of benefit are available via the DWP’s Stat-Xplore tool.


Data on the number of claimants and total spending on pensions is also published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

However, the DWP also produces a pensioners’ incomes series with information on the average incomes of pensioners, the distribution of pensioner income between rich and poor, the type of income they receive (as well as how each of these differs depending on factors such as age, gender and region).

Immigrants claiming benefits

Foreign nationals who work or claim benefits and tax credits in the UK generally require a national insurance number. This includes those who are self-employed or students working part-time.

Every three months the Department for Work and Pensions publishes a statistical bulletin on the National Insurance allocations to Adult Overseas Nationals entering the UK. This bulletin contains data on foreign nationals claiming benefits, such as Jobseekers’ Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. The data is broken down by type of benefit and continent of origin, and historical figures start from 2008.

To find out how many foreign nationals are letting social housing, the Department for Communities and Local Government publishes data on social housing lettings and sales. Within the release, information is broken down by household characteristics and show how many lettings go to UK nationals.

Benefit fraud and error

Not all benefits claims are managed perfectly – sometimes the government pays too much to claimants and at other times it pays too little. There are three types of mistake: fraud is when a claimant knowingly over-claims on their entitlement, claimant error is when claimants make honest mistakes, and official error is when the Department for Work and Pensions, a local authority or HMRC itself is responsible.

Figures on how many people are estimated to fall into each category, and the amounts of money overpaid and underpaid by benefit, are put together in one series by the DWP.

Work Programme

A collection of releases and statistical summaries about the government’s flagship work programme are collated as Work Programme official statistics.

Benefit Cap

Figures relating to the government’s household benefit cap policy, including public opinion polling on the issue, have their own page on the DWP website.