HoC Library
HoC Library

The below update has been compiled by the House of Commons Library using published government data:

Unadjusted Claimant Count

The September 2020 figures for the unadjusted claimant count have been published today, which show the number of people who were claiming unemployment related benefits. This includes those who were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, or were claiming Universal Credit and are required to seek work. Unlike the alternative count (see below) the unadjusted count is not adjusted to take into account the roll-out of Universal Credit.

The unadjusted count
  • There were 2,400 actual claimants in Edinburgh South constituency in September 2020,  which was 4.0% of the population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 6.5%.
  • This was 60 lower than August 2020 and 1,595 higher than March 2020, before the UK lockdown began.
  • There were 485 claimants aged 18-24 in September 2020, 15 lower than August 2020 and 340 higher than March 2020.


As part of the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), a number of enhancements were introduced to Universal Credit. These may have increased the number of employed people eligible for Universal Credit due to their earnings falling below income thresholds.

Consequently, while some of the increase in the Claimant Count will be due to people who have become unemployed, some will also be due to employed people who have become eligible for Universal Credit as part of the government response.

The Resolution Foundation have estimated that only around half of the Claimant Count rise relates to those newly out of work.

Alternative Claimant Count

Due to the roll-out of Universal Credit, the unadjusted claimant count is currently not a good indicator of longer-term trends in the number of people who are looking for work, but does give us a measure how the number of claimants has changed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Universal Credit requires a broader group of claimants to look for work than was the case under Jobseeker’s Allowance. This has the effect of increasing the number of people claiming unemployment benefits after Universal Credit is rolled out in an area. The alternative claimant count adjusts for this.

In addition to counting people currently claiming unemployment benefits, it includes people who would have been required to look for work had Universal Credit always been in place. Though this series does not represent the actual number of people claiming, it provides a better indication of longer-term unemployment trends than the unadjusted figures.

Figures for this series have been updated today, and provide figures up to August 2020.

The alternative count


  • Using the alternative count, there would have been 2,580 unemployed claimants in Edinburgh South in August 2020, 1,680 higher than August 2019.
  • This represents a rate of 4.3% of the population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 6.7%.


Figures for both series can be found on the House of Commons Library’s dashboard: People claiming unemployment benefits.

Further information

All figures are rounded to the nearest five. Figures are not adjusted for seasonal effects. For more information on the two claimant count series, see our briefing paper Universal Credit and the claimant count or please get in touch.

We will shortly publish our monthly briefing paper People claiming unemployment benefits by constituency, which includes analysis of employment and unemployment nationally.

The briefing paper Coronavirus business support schemes: statistics provides constituency level figures for the Job Retention and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes up to the end of July. These statistics will be updated on the 22 October.

The next update will be on Tuesday 10 November when the October 2020 figures for the unadjusted claimant count will be published. The alternative count figures will next be published in January 2021

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