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The data you need: Financial hardship

This selection of indicators looks at some of the small-area data available related to financial hardship that may be useful in identifying areas with higher proportions of residents at-risk of unemployment and financial hardship.

All of the datasets below are available in Local Insight for any area you care about – whether that is wards, parishes or towns. Book a demo to find out more. 

Unemployment Benefit (JSA and Universal Credit)

Source: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

How often updated: Monthly

This indicator shows the proportion of people receiving benefits payable to people who are unemployed receiving either Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit for those who are out of work. 

This has replaced the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance as the headline indicator of the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed and is sometimes referred to as the monthly claimant count. 

As data is published on a monthly basis, it is a useful dataset in order to be able to see changes over time, particularly when events such as the pandemic cause sudden spikes. We have included time series data for Unemployment in Local Insight since March 2020. 

Please note, there are differences in conditionality rules and eligibility criteria between Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance. The phased roll-out of Universal Credit across the country, means that these differences in eligibility and conditionality affect geographical places differently depending on how advanced the roll out is in that area.

Until Universal Credit is fully rolled out, it is not possible to get a consistent measure of unemployment benefit claimant rate. Furthermore, the Universal Credit ‘searching for work’ conditionality group includes some individuals who would not have been previously eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance under the old benefits system e.g. those with work limiting illness awaiting a Work Capability Assessment.

Therefore, there is likely to be a slight overcount of people identified as unemployed in areas where the roll-out is more advanced. This is likely to have been exacerbated during the pandemic as there has been an easing of the usual work-search conditions and contact between claimants and work coaches during the lockdown. 

As a result of these changes UC recipients have not had their work status accurately updated as quickly as they otherwise would. This is particularly important in light of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), with some furloughed workers making an out-of-work UC claim that would have placed them in the Claimant Count, before they knew they were furloughed. In other words some furloughed workers are likely to be now included in the claimant count statistics even though they are still technically in employment. See Resolution Foundation’s brief for more details.

Read our guide on understanding unemployment data for more information

Children in low-income families

Source: Department for Work and Pensions

Next updated: Unknown

This set of 20 indicators provides breakdowns of children in low-income families based upon:

  • Different age ranges
  • Lone parents or couples families
  • Absolute low income and relative low income
  • In-work families and out-of-work families

These are new statistics and should be viewed as a companion release to the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) survey on children in low income households which provides National and Regional estimates but not local area estimates. These local area statistics are calibrated to, and thus match, the 3-year average HBAI survey estimates at Region and Country level for Great Britain. 

The children in absolute and relative low-income families indicators are shown as a proportion of all children, whereas all of the other breakdowns display as a proportion of all children in relative / absolute low-income families.

Food Vulnerability Index

Source: British Red Cross

Timepoint: June 2020

Next updated: Unknown

Shows the food vulnerability index score, where a higher number indicates more vulnerable. Studies of food insecurity in the UK (e.g. Smith et al. 2018) model this using a combination of benefits claims and household-level insecurity (e.g. living alone as an older person or person with low income, especially with dependent children).

 For this bespoke Food Vulnerability Index, Red Cross have combined these indicators with others that are relevant to food insecurity during Covid-19. These include; Frailty, Living alone, Distance to services, Digital exclusion, Income deprivation, Income Support families, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance families, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance families, Pension Credit (Guarantee) families, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit families not already counted, Universal Credit families where no adult is in ‘Working – no requirements’ conditionality regime, Asylum seekers in England in receipt of subsistence support, accommodation support, or both.

Read more on the Red Cross COVID-19 Food Vulnerability Index as well as the COVID-19 Vulnerability Index and the Hardship Fund Vulnerability Index.

Indices of Deprivation 2019 Income Score

Source: Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)

Timepoint: 2019

Next updated: Irregular

The Indices of Deprivation (IoD) 2019 Income Deprivation Domain measures the proportion of the population in an area experiencing deprivation relating to low income. A higher score indicates that an area is experiencing high levels of deprivation.

The definition of low income used includes both those people that are out-of-work and those that are in work but who have low earnings (and who satisfy the respective means tests).

The following indicators are included: Adults and children in Income Support families; Adults and children in income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance families; Adults and children in income-based Employment and Support Allowance families Adults and children in Pension Credit (Guarantee) families; Adults and children in Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit families not already counted that is those who are not in receipt of Income Support income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-based Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit (Guarantee) and whose equivalised income (excluding housing benefit) is below 60% of the median before housing costs; Adults and children in Universal Credit families where there are no adult is in ‘Working – no requirements’ conditionality regime and Asylum seekers in England in receipt of subsistence support accommodation support or both.

Explore this data

All of these datasets and more are available to use in Local Insight.

  • More than 1000 small-area  socio-economic datasets available
  • Create any neighbourhood you like and have data instantly matched to it
  • Access data via maps, reports, dashboards and CSV exports.
  • Add your own organisational data into the system to compare with the contextual data we pre-load into the system for you.

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