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‘Forgotten unemployed’ missing out on needed benefits

Many of Britain’s poorest people are missing out on benefits to which they are entitled, a report published this week has claimed.

According to the report, “Falling through the cracks,” unemployed or very low earners are missing out on at least £73 per week.

The paper, by the Resolution Foundation, found that around 300,000 of those in need of financial support are not claiming unemployment benefits that they are entitled to – with older people, particularly women aged 55-64, and younger men comprising most of this group.

Currently the value of Jobseekers Allowance or standard Universal Credit for those aged 25 and over is £73.10 per week, but it is thought that many could be missing out on much more if they are also entitled to benefits such as maternity grants, energy discounts or free school meals.

The Resolution Foundation attributes this group of “forgotten unemployed” to policymakers having ignored the growing gap between the number of unemployed people and the amount claiming unemployment benefits that has emerged since the late 1990s – although it notes that in many instances unemployed people have good reason to not claim benefits, such as living with a working partner.

However, it says that those who require state assistance but do not claim it must be acknowledged in official unemployment statistics as well as government support.

The paper calls on the government to use the ongoing roll-out of Universal Credit as an opportunity to “refocus on those at the margins of the labour market,” and the think tank has turned to the Office for National Statistics to support this by identifying a new proxy measure of those eligible and in need of support.

David Finch, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said that policymakers have been “pretty relaxed” about the growing number of unemployed people not claiming unemployment benefits, assuming that they have other sources of financial support.

He concluded: “But while there are good reasons for some people not to claim benefits, there are also around 300,000 forgotten unemployed people who are falling through the cracks and not getting the financial support that they need and are entitled to.”

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