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A third of MPs claimed unemployment benefits

  • 16/05/2016

New research by the national charity Turn2us has revealed that nearly a third (29%) of MPs have previously claimed unemployment benefits. The research is released as part of the Turn2us Benefits Awareness Campaign which aims to raise awareness of welfare support, and highlight that anyone could find themselves in financial hardship at any time in their lives.

The survey found that only 26% of MPs had never claimed any form of welfare support, with Child Benefit (52%) and Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), previously known as unemployment benefit, the most commonly claimed (29%).

The new findings come as Turn2us releases new research highlighting the extent to which those struggling financially are not claiming the benefits they could be entitled to. These findings reveal that nearly half (48%) of people in the UK on lower incomes* are not claiming welfare support with 57% of these saying they’d been deterred from claiming or checking potential entitlements because they did not think they would be eligible.

Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us commented: “I think many people would be surprised to hear that nearly a third of MPs have claimed unemployment benefits. Our research really reinforces that absolutely anyone could find themselves in need of support.

“Each year an estimated £15bn in welfare benefits and tax credits goes unclaimed**. Two thirds (66%) of those we surveyed said that they would not consider checking their benefit entitlement if their income dropped; yet 37% say that they would cut back on energy or other essentials and 30% would resort to cutting back on food. This campaign is all about making sure that people are aware of the practical support that’s available that could make a real difference to their lives.”

The survey asked MPs about a range of welfare support including in-work benefits. Labour MPs were twice as likely (16%) than Conservative MPs (8%) to have claimed Working Tax Credit, and four times more likely to have claimed Statutory Sick Pay (19% compared to 5%). Despite this, the findings showed that the vast majority of MPs from all parties had claimed some form of benefits with only 35% of Conservatives, 21% of Labour and 25% SNP MPs stating that they had claimed no support whatsoever.

Simon Hopkins added: “One of the biggest messages to come out of our research is that too many people are struggling needlessly because they feel that benefits are not meant for them, including those who wrongfully believe that working full-time, having a mortgage or receiving a pension precludes them from getting help. That is why we are urging anyone who is unsure if they are eligible for support to visit turn2us.org.uk/BenefitsAware where they will be able to carry out a benefit calculation that will tell them what they might be entitled to, how much they could receive and how to apply.”

The Turn2us Benefits Awareness Campaign launched on Wednesday 11 May. On Thursday 19 May, the charity is hosting an event in parliament to ask MPs to help spread the message to their constituents of the support that is available, and the charity is hoping to attract national and regional support.

-ENDS-

For further information and interviews with Turn2us case studies or spokespeople, please contact:
Emma Lamberton, Communications Manager on emma.lamberton@turn2us.org.uk / 0208 834 9259 or
Adam Lake, Head of Communications on adam.lake@turn2us.org.uk / 07884 272 323

Notes to Editors

  • Dods Polling surveyed 98 MPs on behalf of Turn2us in March 2016, this included 37 Conservative, 43 Labour and 12 SNP MPs and 6 from other parties
  • *Survey conducted with Research Now in March 2016 of 1,512 adults with annual household incomes of £25,000 and less before tax and deductions
  • ** Source: DWP and HMRC, 2013-14

About Turn2us:

  • Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services – online, by phone and face to face through partners and volunteers
  • The Turn2us website includes a Benefits Calculator to find out what welfare benefits and tax credits you could be entitled to, a Grants Search to find out if you might be eligible for support from over 3,000 charitable funds, and a range of information and resources to help people in financial hardship
  • Turn2us can also provide direct financial assistance through a range of specific funds that are managed directly by the charity, including our own Elizabeth Finn Fund which supports people from over 120 different professions
  • For more information, please visit www.turn2us.org.uk