Social Security Benefits

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 1st April 2008.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of claimants of (a) jobseekers allowance, (b) incapacity benefit and (c) income support who were living abroad in each of the last 10 years.

Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

Neither jobseeker's allowance, nor income support are payable to people who live outside Great Britain. Further, 0.45 per cent. only of incapacity benefits claimants live abroad.

An EC regulation co-ordinates member states' social security schemes for workers who move between member states. The EC regulation provides that generally, sickness and invalidity benefits must be exported if a beneficiary moves to another member state, although there are some restrictions on the export of sickness benefit. In effect, people in Great Britain who qualify for contributory incapacity benefit (IB) because they have made sufficient national insurance contributions, can continue to receive their benefit if they take up permanent residence in one of the other EU member states. The agreement also extends to the states of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The UK also has reciprocal arrangements with a number of non-European countries (e.g. USA, Jamaica) some of which include similar arrangements for people from Great Britain to continue to receive contributory benefit when they move there and vice-versa.

Of those receiving IB abroad most live in the Republic of Ireland and Spain and smaller numbers across a wide range of other European countries. Very few live outside Europe. They include both British expatriates and nationals of other countries who have worked and paid contributions in Great Britain and have then returned to their own country. They also include "pro rata" cases where the benefit is paid partly by the UK and partly by a foreign authority as customers have contributed to insurance schemes in both Great Britain and an EEA state.

The available information for incapacity benefits is in the table.

Incapacity benefit and severe disablement allowance claimants in Great Britain and abroad; as at May each year
Quarter ending GB Claimants living abroad
1998 2,784,500 9,400
1999 2,744,300 9,000
2000 2,728,090 10,230
2001 2,795,340 10,430
2002 2,807,630 10,800
2003 2,815,660 11,300
2004 2,814,710 11,740
2005 2,783,720 12,130
2006 2,730,000 12,050
2007 2,685,320 12,010

1. Caseload figures prior to May 2000 are rounded to the nearest 100, and to the nearest 10 thereafter.

2. Incapacity benefit (IB) and severe disablement allowance (SDA) claimant figures include IB credits only cases.

3. Caseload figures prior to May 2000 have been produced using 5 per cent. data and rated up proportionally using 100 per cent. WPLS totals.

4. Great Britain totals may include a small number of claimants living abroad.

5. It is possible to receive IB/SDA in another country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or a country which has a social security agreement with the United Kingdom, or short-term IB for up to 26 weeks under certain conditions.


IAD Information Centre 5 per cent. samples—May 1998 to May 1999 and DWP Information Directorate, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study, 100 per cent. data—May 2000 onwards.

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