I have been asked to reply.
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.
Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated October 2008:
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many times the definition of the unemployment claimant count and any inclusions to or exclusions from that count have changed since 1997; and what the reason for the change was in each case. (226203)
The definition of the unemployment claimant count has not changed since 1997, following the introduction of Jobseeker's Allowance in 1996.
Although not a change to the definition of the unemployment claimant count, the introduction of the system of joint claims for Jobseeker's Allowance from 2001 has meant that both members of certain couples are now required to claim JSA jointly and both are required to look for work. This change has led to certain claims being counted as two separate claims when they would previously have appeared as one claim. Without this change, the current level of the unemployment claimant count would be about 9,000 lower than it currently is.