House of Commons Library

Statistics on Migrants and Benefits

Published Friday, February 12, 2016

Data on migrants and benefits is incomplete and fragmented, not routinely available from a single source. This is because the nationality of benefit claimants is not routinely gathered by either DWP or HMRC when administering benefits or tax credits. This paper brings together the main available data sources – including DWP data on National Insurance Number registrations, departmental ad-hoc releases and responses to Freedom of Information requests – to analyse rates of benefit and tax credits receipt among migrants living in the UK.

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Data on migrants and benefits is incomplete and fragmented, not routinely available from a single source.

This is because the nationality of benefit claimants is not information routinely gathered by either DWP or HMRC when administering benefits or tax credits. As a result, we are reliant on indirect, often ad hoc analysis – such as of the nationality of current benefit claimants at time of registration for a National Insurance Number – to estimate rates of benefit receipt among migrants in the UK.

This paper brings together the UK’s main data sources on benefits and tax credits paid to migrants living in the UK.

It provides data on:

  • The nationality of current DWP benefit claimants at point of registration for a National Insurance Number (NINo) and the proportion of these who were in- and out- of work
  • The nationality of claimants of HMRC Child and Working Tax Credits at point of registration for a NINo and the proportion of these who were in-work
  • The number of claimants to whom Child Benefit is paid for children resident elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • The number of Child Benefit claimants who were non-UK nationals at point of registration for a NINo

Pages 4 to 9 answer frequently asked questions on statistics on migrants and benefits, including summary analysis of:

  • The proportion of current benefit claimants who were non-UK nationals at point of registration for a National Insurance number…
  • … and the proportion of these who are in- and out- of work
  • The proportion of EU migrants who claim benefits in their first four years in the UK
  • How many EU migrants might be affected by an “emergency brake” on in-work benefits for migrants newly arriving in the UK

Section 7, below, provides further reading on migration and asylum statistics, on migrant’s access to UK benefits and on proposals to restrict this access.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7445

Authors: Richard Keen; Ross Turner

Topics: Asylum, Benefits administration, Family benefits, Immigration, Nationality, Sickness, disability and carers' benefits, Working age benefits

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