Beyond income and ability to keep up with bills, a key indicator of economic capital is whether someone qualifies for support from the state. In the United Kingdom, the state offers a range of different benefits for people who fall below certain financial thresholds or are in circumstances that qualify them for support. Receipt of such benefits is an indication that you face some financial hardship or are subject to conditions that place additional demands on your finances. The survey asked respondents whether they received twelve different types of benefit available, at the time, in the United Kingdom: council tax reduction, disability benefit, carer’s allowance, housing benefit, means-tested benefits, health benefits, heating benefits, child benefit, child tax credit, income support, pension credit, and the Social Fund.
The answers are presented in Figure 1 (above, using weighted data) and show that only a small minority of people receive each benefit. The largest group of benefits recipients are the one in nine people (11.0%) who receive child benefit, followed by the one in eleven (8.8%) who receive a council tax reduction and the one in thirteen (7.8%) who receive disability benefit. Around one in fifteen people receive housing benefit (6.7%) or child tax credit (6.4%), but none of the remaining benefits are received by more than one in forty-five people. Whilst each benefit is received by a small group of people, it is perfectly possible that there is a large group who complete at least one benefit.
Figure 2 (below, also using weighted data) shows that, when we count how many benefits people receive, almost three in ten (29.0%) are in receipt of at least one benefit. Thus, whilst receiving benefits is something that is not experienced by the majority of the population at any given time, there is a sizeable minority who receive some form of financial support from the state. As with keeping up with bills, the experiences of the minority who receive benefits (who often overlap with those who struggle to keep up with bills) may be quite difficult and are important to bear in mind. That said, there are also many people who receive benefits and face few or no monetary difficulties, so being supported by state benefits is not always an indication of financial hardship.
|Variable names||ec_benefits_ctreduct, ec_benefits_disabil,|
|Number of cases||1,405|
|Number of categories||2|
|Categories to code as missing||1 (‘Yes’) on ec_benefits_prefnotsay|
|Cases to code as missing||33|
|Recoded variable name||ec_benctr_b, ec_bendis_b, ec_bencar_b,|
ec_benhou_b, ec_benmea_b, ec_benhel_b,
ec_benhet_b, ec_benchi_b, ec_benctc_b,
ec_beninc_b, ec_benpen_b, ec_bensoc_b,
|Number of cases||1,372|
|Number of categories||2|
|New and old categories||People who selected ‘Yes’ (1) on the original|
ec_benefits_prefnotsay variable (presented as
the ‘Prefer not to say’ option to respondents)
were coded as missing on the new binary
variables, which also replace 2 with 0 to
represent the ‘No’ category.
The responses to the new binary variables
were then added together to create the new
count variable (ec_bens_c). As such, a 0 on
the count variable indicates that the
respondent receives none of the listed state
benefits, whilst a 12 indicates that they receive
all of them (though 9 was the highest number
that any respondent actually indicated that