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Jobseeker's Allowance

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimants have been claiming for (a) three months, (b) six months, (c) 12 months, (d) 18 months, (e) two years, (f) three years, (g) four years and (h) five years, including any period for which a person may have been on the New Deal but returned to JSA immediately afterwards; (173755)

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of people on job seekers allowance who have spent five or more of the last 10 years on out-of-work benefits;

(3) what estimate he has made of the number of people on job seekers allowance who have spent (a) more than two of the last five years and (b) more than two of the last three years on out-of-work benefits.

The additional information on spells on the new deal is not available except at disproportionate costs. Following is a table showing information on continuous spells of claimant unemployment.

Jobseeker’s allowance claimants by continuous duration of claim, Great Britain and United Kingdom: November 2007

Number of claimants:

Duration of claim



0 to less than 3 months



3 to less than 6 months



6 to less than 12 months



12 months to less than 18 months



18 months to less than 2 years



2 years to less than 3 years



3 years to less than 4 years



4 years to less than 5 years



5 years and over




1. Figures are rounded to the nearest five.

2. Figures are based on computer held cases only.



Of those claimants whose continuous claim exceeds two years about half of the group are made up of those aged 50 plus. Up until April 2007 our customers aged 50 plus were not required to participate in the mandatory intensive activity period when on new deal 25 plus and so a stock of two year plus has built up. We now mandate all our customers to take part, and they will take up training allowances during any activity periods.

A quarter of the group are those who have entered employment zones (EZs). Unlike the mandatory JSA new deals, customers participating in employment zones are not required to participate in full time activity and so need not break the JSA claim. EZ customers remain on JSA throughout the programme either until they leave benefit or they return to the standard JSA regime. It is therefore possible that some of the very hardest to help (despite significant intervention) remain unemployed beyond two years.

A smaller group (about 8,000) are those that have been exempted from taking part in new deal and the mandatory option or intensive activity period (this stage would ordinarily take them from JSA on to a training allowance). Customers are exempted at the discretion of an adviser manager for reasons such as being a potentially violent customer, suffering from a serious drink or drug addiction, have a drink or drug addiction which is improving and progress to work provision is underway or those with mental health issues. The number of exclusions on new deal has increased over recent years. Following the work of a Jobcentre Plus led new deal task and finish group in 2007, the number and reason for exclusions is being more closely monitored.

In regard to all claimants referred to we expect that a proportion of the cases are due to administrative error or a delay in a jobseeker entering provision promptly (for which sanctions can be applied). Jobcentre Plus is continually looking at ways of how we can reduce such error and has made significant in roads to reduce the number of ‘overstayers’ ie those delaying their progress on new deal, down from 17 per cent. in June 2006, to now less than 5 per cent.

The GP response paper Ready for Work (December 2007) announced the Government’s plans for significant changes in the way we help and support our customers back into work:

A stepped programme of support will be available for all customers from day one.

The successful new deal gateway will be refreshed and introduced for all customers from six months of a claim (bringing that support forward by 12 months for those 25 and over).

All those reaching 12 months unemployment will enter the flexible new deal, receiving intensive support from a specialist provider. During this time with a provider we expect all customers will enter work or participate in some form of full time activity increasing the chances of work.

A high proportion moving into work will reduce the numbers who might otherwise have reached two years. Entering other full time activity will act to prevent the remainder from crossing the two year threshold.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the longest time is a person on jobseekers allowance has spent on holiday. (185888)