Alternative Claimant Count - Edinburgh South
Alternative Claimant Count - Edinburgh South

Unadjusted Claimant Count

The January 2021 figures for the unadjusted claimant count have been published, 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 2,215 actual claimants in Edinburgh South constituency in January 2021,  which was 3.6% of the population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 6.2%.
  • This was 20 lower than December 2020 and 1,465 higher than January 2020, before the UK lockdown began. Note the majority of the increase happened in March-May at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • There were 455 claimants aged 18-24 in January 2021, the same as in December 2020 and 320 higher than January 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 who are eligible for unemployment-related benefits.

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 of 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 are updated on a quarterly basis and have not been updated today. They are currently up to November 2020 and will next be updated on 20 April 2021.

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

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