£90 million in ‘welfare’ unclaimed every day – £33 billion per year

Did you know government figures reveal up to £33 billion per year of welfare goes unclaimed?  It’s between £75 million and £90 million PER DAY of welfare that people are entitled to yet do not claim and that is a staggering amount of money

I suspect many do not yet many will probably know that £1.3 billion of welfare is claimed in fraud and error as this figure is constantly used and promoted loudly and repeatedly by government, and is rammed in our faces in the printed media and in poverty porn television programmes too numerous to and undeserving of mention.

This £1.3 billion figure of fraud AND error – two separate issues and aggregated by government for their own political ends – equates to £3.5 million per day yet between 23 and 27 times that amount or £75 and £90 million per day goes unclaimed despite being entitled to.

The figures explained

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) every few years publishes the take-up of welfare benefits with the last time being June 2015 which I discussed here at the time.  I remind below and emphasise that, for example, between 67% and 73% of what is entitled by claimants in Pension Credit is paid out and thus between 27% and 33% goes unclaimed.


This DWP report only chose to report on a few social security benefits which I summarised in a table (below)

As you can see this DWP report on take-up / unclaimed social security benefits saw between £11.994 billion and £15.657 billion go unclaimed out of the aggregated £52.954 billion paid out in these few listed social security benefits.

Yet excluding State Pension of almost £97 billion per year the DWP forecasts this year it will pay out £83.51 billion in all social security benefits* such as £5.87 billion in Attendance Allowance which is one of many benefits not included in the DWP ‘unclaimed report’ nor was a combined amount of DLA/PIP estimated this coming financial year to be over £13.5 billion and all of these other benefits also have various non take-up rates too.

Using the many official ad hoc reports of other social security benefits which also use low and high percentage figures such as the 67% – 73% and 85% to 88% highlighted above, we arrive at a figure just for social security benefits of between £18.873 billion and £24.693 billion per year that is entitled to yet goes unclaimed.

Yet this is just a part of welfare which is the government term used for social security benefits and tax credits.

HMRC also publishes the amount of tax credits that goes unclaimed and the last published figure of £8.334 billion that goes unclaimed in working tax credits and child tax credits needs to be included in the overall unclaimed amount of welfare in order for a correct comparison to be made.

In summary at this point we see that the £8.334 billion of tax credits that goes unclaimed plus the £18.873 – £24.693 billion of social security benefits that go unclaimed gives a total amount of welfare unclaimed each year to be the £27.207 to £33.027 billion figure – which is £74.54 million to £90.48 million unclaimed welfare per day figure.


These are staggering figures and I need not say what the impacts would be on for example UK poverty (any definition) if everyone received what they were entitled to in terms of welfare.

While I accept that the figures are open to significant variances given the dates of the reports on what is and is not taken up by each benefit and tax credits (and note this means the total could be higher than £33 bn per year too) they still represent overall between 22% and 29% of all welfare going unclaimed despite being entitled to – or more simply 1 in every 4 people don’t receive the welfare they are entitled to yet the fraud (and error) rate is 0.8% or less than 1 in 100!

For every 1 ‘fraudulent‘ claimant of welfare benefits there are at least 25 who do not claim what they are lawfully entitled to!

I have drilled down the figures and – statistically – it means that in my home city of Liverpool alone pensioners miss out on £12 million per year just in Attendance Allowance (pensioner form of disability benefit) and it further means that some £8.5 million per year goes unclaimed in Carers Allowance in Liverpool.

These two benefits are linked when a son or daughter takes care of an ailing parent and is surprisingly common.  The pensioner parent can be entitled to AA and the caring son or daughter entitled to CA for caring for their elderly Mother or Father – and as the extrapolation reveals in Liverpool alone there could be in excess of £20 million per year going unclaimed in this scenario alone.

Yet this example also reveals that what we are being constantly fed by government and the media with poverty porn narratives that all welfare recipients are scroungers is superficial nonsense.

The narrative is wholly one-sided and focuses upon the £3.5 million per day lost in fraud AND error and the fact that 25 times this amount goes unclaimed often in very noble causes such as caring for your elderly Mother or Father which we all think and hope we would do if it happened to our family.

By all means stop fraudulent claiming and this £3.5 million per day of fraud and error – with two-thirds of that being error – is £3.5 million too much BUT running just that ‘fraud’ argument, by government or media, has to be wrong and we have to ensure its same principle of only getting what you are lawfully entitled to applies to those who don’t claim whether out of ignorance or pride or means-testing or whatever reason.

This up to £33 billion per year is foregone by definition from those who need it most, that is those who qualify for welfare and entitled to it, and note this figure is what the DWP admit is entitled to, the same DWP who say for example assessments and decisions for disability benefit payments are fair when 65% (PIP) and 68% of ESA decisions are overturned in the claimants favour.  The true figure is therefore likely to be even higher than £33 billion per year and £90 million each and every day!

I restate that this is what people are entitled to and is theirs by right, irrespective of the government’s incessant and sole focus on fraudulent claims in which government has a clear financial interest in fostering in deterring and dissuading those who may be eligible from applying for.

How can it be culturally acceptable to claim back PPI but not claim PIP?

If you claim back PPI you are only getting what you are entitled to yet claim PIP and you are a scrounger!  Yet just as millions were mis-sold PPI the government is mis-selling welfare to all of us and its time everyone got what they are entitled to and not a penny more or a penny less.


* the £97 billion State Pension figure and £83.51 billion social security figure are 2014/15 government estimates of 2017/18 spend and exclude Tax Credit spend

9 thoughts on “£90 million in ‘welfare’ unclaimed every day – £33 billion per year

  1. And probably an underestimate……for example, the figures on pension credit are based on the circumstances of the non-claimants as they currently stand. So if a disabled pensioner is missing out on AA, the DWP estimate of unclaimed benefit does not include the sdp that would also be in payment. The same goes for all other age groups who are missing premiums that are dependent on other benefit claims (disabled children, adults on esa etc) …..that legal entitlement isnt being captured in the Official stats. 

    Sent from my Samsung device

  2. What are your thoughts on a universal income?

    There are so many problems with people not getting when a basic income to survive in or out of work that I’m starting to wonder if this is the only way to guarantee that everyone has enough to get by rather than trying to negotiate an intentional bureaucracy to get bits of money..

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