Money Wellness
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calendar icon17 Apr 2024

1.44 Million unemployed in the UK

The unemployment rate in the UK has increased in the three months to February 2024, while growth in regular earnings slowed for the sixth time in a row, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

 The data shows that unemployment has jumped to an estimated 4.2% during this time, an increase from 3.9% in the previous quarter.

 What this means is that an estimated 1.44 million people in the UK aged 16+ are unemployed.

This comes as growth in regular earnings (excluding bonuses) was at 6%, down from 6.1% in the previous quarter. This growth has slowed for the sixth time in a row.

The ONS data reveals that there are 156,000 fewer people in employment this quarter, as the UK employment rate (74.5%) for December 2023 to February 2024 remains below estimates a year ago and has fallen from 75% since January.

According to Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, average wage growth is still “obstinately high”, with growth slowing more gradually than expected.

“This means there is a greater chance interest rate cuts may come a bit later in the summer, with August now looking increasingly likely. However, a lot can happen in the next few months and June still can’t be ruled out.”

 What help can you get if you’re unemployed?

New style jobseeker’s allowance

Providing you’ve paid enough class 1 national insurance during the last two full tax years, you might be able to claim new style jobseeker’s allowance. This is paid for up to six months and your partner’s income won’t be taken into account.

Universal credit

To get help with housing costs or raising children, you’ll need to apply for universal credit. How much you get is based on your household income, so your partner’s income will be taken into account.

If you pay rent, you may be able to get help with this from the housing costs element of universal credit.

If you were getting housing benefit when you lost your job, this may count as a change of circumstance meaning you'll have to claim universal credit instead. If you qualify for universal credit, you’ll get housing benefit for two weeks after sending in your universal credit claim before it stops.

Help with your mortgage interest payments

If you own your home, you might be able to get a government loan to help with the interest on your mortgage. Find out more in our Support for Mortgage Interest guide.

Tax credits

If you were getting child tax credit or working tax credit when you lost your job, you may be able to make a new claim. But losing your job may count as a change of circumstance and you may need to apply for universal credit instead.

If you were getting tax credits and you apply for universal credit, you’ll need to tell the Tax Credit Office within 30 days. You can ring the helpline on 0345 300 3900.

Help with council tax

When you’re on a low income or claiming benefits, you may also qualify to a council tax reduction. The amount you pay can be reduced by as much as 100%.

Check if you can get a reduction on the government’s website.

For more information, visit our guide.

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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