Social security: sources of data
This web page is taken from the Appendix
to How Social Security
Works. It is reproduced here with the permission of Policy Press. Laying it out in this form makes it
possible for readers to use the links directly. The links might change:
please let me know
if any of them do not lead where they should.
The rules relating to benefits
The best guide to specific rules is the long-running manual produced by
Child Poverty Action
Group, the Welfare benefits and tax credits handbook. CPAG
also produces a range of specific guides, including handbooks on:
In relation to disability, there is the Disability
Alliance’s Disability rights handbook. Sweet and Maxwell
also publish detailed guides to the law under the name Social
- child support
- young persons
- fuel rights
- personal finance
- Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
- welfare to work.
CPAG produces a Welfare rights bulletin. Citizens’ Advice
produces The Adviser, a relatively accessible publication
covering benefits, consumer affairs, housing, debt and employment
issues. There are online services for several of the CPAG publications,
including child support, Housing Benefits and migrants.
Newcastle Welfare Rights Service also hosts an
invaluable service listing recent and
forthcoming changes in benefit rules. Rightsnet has very useful data
and discussions but some parts are limited to subscribers.
Sources of data
Details of the pattern of social security provision in different
countries is available from the website of the US Social Security
Administration. They publish
Social security programs throughout the world. The International
Social Security Association’s Observatory, which prepares this
information, has a searchable database.
Most data on social security in Britain are now available directly on
the internet. The place to begin is not, unusually, the Office for
National Statistics, but the Analytical Services Division of the DWP. The DWP's
has been withdrawn, and is gradually being replaced by a range of different statistics on a range of
Probably the best other single source of statistical material is the
system. This is presented as being about ‘official labour market
statistics’. An ‘advanced query’, however, gives access to a wide range
of statistics about specific benefits.
Summaries of data
The Annual abstract of statistics has a long-running
series of tables covering key information, and the Benefit expenditure tables prepared by the
Analytical Services Division offer useful
numerical summaries over time.
Labour market statistics
Statistics on the labour market are distinct from statistics on
benefits, but they include much information that is relevant, as well
as information about economic inactivity and coverage of several
population groups. The NOMIS site is again useful. There is a guide to
labour market statistics on the Office for National Statistics site.
HM Revenue & Customs data
This information is not as accessibly indexed as the Department for
Work and Pensions material, and the HMRC website suffers from the
common vice of frequently changing the location of files without
redirecting users to the material they were looking for. Child Benefit and Tax Credit statistics are available, but there
are limitations. Some Child Benefit aggregates, includėng the numbers of
families and children claiming, are available along with the
Central government has never quite grasped why local authorities and local groups might need small-scale area data. The Benefit expenditure tables are broken down to
local authority level, and NOMIS
data go down to ward level. Other detailed, up-to-date information
is available at local level, but the dedicated sites for Neighbourhood
Statistics were closed in 2017. There are some local statistics
at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics .