estimates of the take-up of the main income related benefits in Great
Britain: Housing Benefit, Income Support, Family Credit and Council
Tax Benefit. All estimates relate to the financial year 1996/97.
Caseload take-up compares the number of benefit recipients - averaged
over the year - with the number who would be receiving if everyone
took up their entitlement for the full period of their entitlement.
Expenditure take-up compares the total amount of benefit received, in
the course of a year, with the total amount that would be received if
everyone took up their entitlement for the full period of their
entitlement. So take-up would reach 100% only if all those eligible
claimed, and did so for the full duration of their entitlement.
The key results are:
Housing benefit take-up in 1996/97 was in the range 93% to 97%
(refer to note 4 in Notes) by expenditure and 90% to 95% by caseload.
The amount of housing benefit left unclaimed by entitled people was
between£320m and£700m. The average number of people
leaving this benefit unclaimed was in the range 230 thousand to 510
thousand. The total amount claimed was£9,870m, claimed by 4.7
million recipients (refer to note 5 in Notes).
By family type, take-up of housing benefit appears highest among lone
parents: in the range 98% to 100% by expenditure and 97% to 100% by
caseload. Take-up by pensioners appears to be lowest amongst the
different family types at between 91% to 94% by expenditure and 87%
to 92% by caseload.
By tenure type, take-up of housing benefit by local authority tenants is higher than that by private tenants: 95% to 98% compared to 91% to 95% by expenditure respectively and 93% to 97% compared to 87% to 93% by caseload respectively.
The pattern of take-up of housing benefit in 1996/97 is very
similar to that in 1995/96 and it cannot be concluded that take-up
has risen or fallen.
Non-recipients tend to have smaller entitlements to housing
benefit than recipients. It appears that recipients of income support
and recipients of council tax benefit are more likely to take-up
their entitlement to housing benefit than their non-recipient
Income Support take-up in 1996/97 was in the range 87% to 91%
by expenditure and 74% to 80% by caseload.
amount of Income Support left unclaimed was between£1,240m and£1,800m. The average number of people entitled to
income support and yet not claiming it was in the range 1.07 million
and 1.55 million. This compares to 4.37 million people claiming
£11,860m worth of Income Support (refer to note 6 in Notes).
By family type, take-up was lowest for single female pensioners at
between 72% and 77% by expenditure and between 59% and 65% by
caseload. Take-up of income support by lone parents is probably the
highest at 97% by expenditure and at between 95% by caseload (refer to note 4 in Notes).
Take-up of income support is much the same in 1996/97 as it
was in 1995/96 by both expenditure and caseload. There appears to
have been a slight increase in take-up by pensioners between 1995/96
and 1996/97 although the evidence is not conclusive.
As with housing benefit, the amounts of income support left unclaimed
by entitled non-recipients tend to be smaller than the amounts
actually claimed. Some entitled non-recipients of income support had
significant amounts of other income (besides council tax benefit and
housing benefit): 39% of all single entitled non-recipients had other
income exceeding£75 per week; two thirds of all entitled
non-recipient couples had other income exceeding£100 per week - 26%
had more than£150 per week. Some entitled non-recipients shared
households with other benefit units and may have been sharing
resources with them as well. Overall, 37% of entitled non-recipients
lived in households of this type.
Tax Benefit Take-up
Council tax benefit take-up for 1996/97 was in the range 76% to
82% by expenditure and 74% to 80% by caseload.
amount of council tax benefit left unclaimed by entitled
non-recipients was in the range£460m to£670m. The
average number of people entitled yet not claiming, was between 1.34
million and 1.99 million. There were 5.53 million recipients
accounting for£2,100m of council tax benefit.
family type, in common with both income support and housing
benefit, take-up of council tax benefit appears to be lowest amongst
pensioners: 67% to 74% by expenditure and 65% to 72% by caseload; and
highest amongst lone parents: 91% to 95% by expenditure and 90% to
95% by caseload.
By tenure type, take-up is highest amongst local authority tenants:
at least 90% by expenditure and at least 88% by caseload. Take-up is
lowest amongst owner occupiers: at least 56% by expenditure and at
least 52% by caseload.
Take-up of council tax benefit in 1996/97 appears to be
little different than in 1995/96 by both expenditure and caseload.
weekly entitlements of council tax benefit were lower than those
of other income related benefits, the average weekly unclaimed amount
being£6.50. This could help to explain why some entitled
non-recipients do not claim their benefit. It appears that take-up of
council tax benefit is higher amongst those who already claim other
income related benefits.
Family credit take-up in 1996/97 was 84% by expenditure and
72% by caseload.
The amount of family credit left unclaimed was£330m. The
average number of entitled non- recipients was 230,000. An
average 610,000 people received£1,730m worth of family
family type, take-up by single parents was higher at 87% by
expenditure and 79% by caseload than for couples at 81% by
expenditure and 67% by caseload.
There has been no significant change in family credit
take-up between 1995/96 and 1996/97. Take-up by couples does appear
to have increased slightly, although sampling variation (refer
to note 7 in the Notes) has a large impact on family
credit take-up statistics so it is difficult to be certain.
all four benefits together, there was between #2,350 million
and #3,500 million left unclaimed in 1996/97; this compares to
#25,560 million that was claimed which represents take-up by
expenditure of between about 88% and 92%. There were between 2.87
million and 4.28 million entitled non-recipients compared to 15.2
million recipients. This represents take-up by caseload of between
about 78% and 84%.
. 'Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 1996/97' is an
annual publication of the Government Statistical Service, released by
the Department of Social Security (DSS): ISBN 1 84123 068 5 price
#15. Questions about the figures can be referred to Ian Davis (0171
962 8222) of the DSS Analytical Services Divison ASD3A, Department of
Social Security, Room 4-56, The Adelphi, 1-11 John Adam Street,
London WC2N 6HT. Questions about DSS policy should be referred to DSS
press office (0171-238-0866). Requests for copies of the publication
should be directed to Corporate Document Services Publications
Orderline (Tel : 0113 399 4040 or Fax : 0113 399 4205)
. These estimates only cover people living in private households -
i.e: they do not cover people in residential care and nursing homes
nor those in bed and breakfast accommodation - and do not cover full
time self-employed people. Take-up for these groups cannot be
assessed from the available information: the Family Resources Survey
(FRS) is a survey of private households only; and the information on
the incomes of the self-employed in the FRS is not sufficient to
allow accurate assessment of their entitlement to income related
. The data used to estimate take-up comes from two main sources.
Counts of the numbers of benefit recipients are taken from the DSS's
own administrative records. The numbers of benefit units not taking
up their entitlement to benefit are estimated using the sample of
households from the Family Resources Survey - an annual survey of
about 25,000 households conducted for the DSS.
. Estimates of the take-up of Housing Benefit and Council Tax
Benefit are presented as ranges within which true take-up is expected
to lie. These 'ranges of true take-up' account for biases inherent in
estimates made from data that is less than perfect. For Income
Support, the majority of take-up estimates are presented as ranges,
but the estimates for lone parents are presented as point estimates.
This is because the available evidence suggests that the potential
for bias in the estimation of numbers of lone parent entitled
non-recipients is very low. Estimates of the take-up of Family Credit
are presented as point estimates - the six monthly nature of Family
Credit means that it is not possible to assess the extent of the bias
in the estimates of numbers of entitled non- recipients as we do for
the other benefits.
. Estimates of the total amount of Housing Benefit claimed and the
total number of HousingBenefit recipients exclude cases of claims
being processed but have not yet been settled, some of which will
result in awards of benefit.
. Those people unemployed and actively seeking full time work have,
since October 1996 been required to claim Job Seeker's Allowance.
Estimates of the total amount of Income Support claimed and the total
number of Income Support recipients presented here exclude, from
October 1996, those unemployed and actively seeking full time work.
. The uncertainty in an estimate due to taking a random sample of
the population which may not reflect the characteristics of the whole
population is known as sampling variation or sampling error. Data
from the Family Resources Survey, which selects a random sample from
the private household population, is used in the estimation of
take-up statistics, so take-up statistics are affected by sampling
. Care should be taken when interpreting changes in take-up over
time. As it is not possible to identify a single estimate of true
take-up, year to year changes in the ranges do not necessarily mean
that the true level of take-up has changed.