Here is why Labour Won’t Discuss Welfare

Alex MacDonald January 14, 2014 25

Data: Daniel Pryor.

Analysis: Alex MacDonald.

Below are the top 200 constituencies which claim ‘Unemployment Related Benefits’, which since 1996 has meant Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). JSA is at least £56.80 per week but it can be more depending on your circumstances.

Have a look through the data below and see what you think for yourself. We’ve added our own analysis below for you to view.

Furthermore, should you wish to view the full 650 constituencies, there is an option for you to do so at the very bottom of this article.

jsa claimants key


jsa claimants12

Data Analysis

We have compiled data of the highest 200 constituencies based on how much of a percent of the population claims Job Seekers’ Allowance.

From analysing this data, much of what we expected remains true: Labour seats are held in areas which are poorer / slightly poorer than Conservative or Liberal Democrat areas.

Out of the highest 50 JSA claiming constituencies, Labour control 42, which makes 84%.

At the highest 100 JSA constituencies and including Northern Irish constituencies, Labour retain 84% of total number of seats. However, take away Northern Irish constituencies (as Labour do not stand in Northern Ireland), and Labour hold 90% of these seats.

At the highest 200 JSA claiming constituencies and with Northern Irish parties, Labour dominate with 157 seats. Take away the Northern Irish parties once more, and we find that just 28 of the highest 200 JSA constituencies are controlled by a non-Labour English, Scottish, or Welsh party – all areas where Labour have stood.


Broader Analysis

Many political commentators emphasise the battlegrounds where the rhetorical conflicts between politicians fight it out for the electorate as key for election campaigns. Welfare is, in our view, the one area where the Conservative Party should be extending its reach due to the dominance of Labour on an unpopular sector of government.

Welfare spending is approximately, three times the size of British defence spending. The reforms from Iain Duncan Smith are very popular with the electorate, and according to a Labour “Poll Expert” allowing the Conservatives to dominate in this area.

Furthermore, from the data above, it is clear that the areas affected by cuts to JSA and other welfare related areas, are not likely – if ever – to vote Conservative. Instead they look to Labour to help them maintain their benefits, as Labour are supposedly the party which protects the poor.

This scenario is a tough one for Labour: Failure for Ed Miliband to address the problems of the welfare system could leave marginal seats open to stronger rhetoric from other parties. On the other hand, should Miliband present a strong case on benefit reductions, it is possible that he may lose some support in high JSA claiming constituencies.

It’s not a good place to be for the Labour party. And that is why the Tories should push on with welfare reforms.


For a larger data sample, we have compiled the full 650 seats via JSA claimants. Click here for a download. Please reference The Backbencher in any future articles / research which use this data. 

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  • Tim Oliver

    Small point – but you’ve got Sheffield Brightside down as a Lib Dem seat, when it most definitely is not. We don’t want David Blunkett on our benches.

    • Daniel Pryor

      Cheers Tim, we’ll get that changed!

      • AlexMacDonald7


  • Tom Maslen

    Is being on JSA a bad thing?

    • low_resolution_fox

      Is having money and a job a bad thing?

      • Tom Maslen

        That’s preferably, but it doesn’t invalidate my question.

        • Gregory Mason

          Yes it is.

    • bwims

      The reason for being on it is everything. If you are looking for work in reality, then no. If you think it makes more sense than a minimum wage job, then yes, it really is a bad thing.

      • Tom Maslen

        The vast majority of people on JSA don’t want to be on it, but it keeps people going until they find a job. The article implies there is something bad about it.

        A welfare umbrella is a rationale thing to provide people.

        • AB

          I’m not sure the article is implying that. What it is saying is that there’s a clear correlation between the proportion claiming JSA and the likelihood of the seat being held by Labour. However, correlation is not necessarily causation.

          The real question is whether people are most likely to vote on the basis of how policies affect them personally.

          • Nathan Joel Morrison

            Look into surveys of unemployed people – they don’t tend to vote.

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  • Marcher Lord

    Moral of the tale – Vote Labour, Stay unemployed. #BenefitsWonderland

  • Emily Barley

    Very interesting figures. Would be interesting to see this side by side with a similar analysis of ESA.

  • Chloe

    Your article implies that JSA claimants vote Labour to maintain their benefits, but have you considered that most of these people don’t actually WANT to be claiming benefits and are simply voting for a party that will help them when they’re struggling in a difficult time? Additionally, what about the other 90% (+) that are in the area and not on JSA? A majority of them must be voting Labour and clearly for that reason…

  • bwims

    This is why we should restrict the vote to people who have worked a reasonable percentage of the year before the election. Then Labour _might_ go back to representing _workers_, not welfare dependents.

  • bwims

    Now we need to know the voting figures of areas with school leavers who get pregnant as quickly as possible.

  • AB

    Very interesting reading. Although you might want to amend your full table – it has Sheffield, Hallam down as a Labour seat!

  • Nathan Joel Morrison

    Shock horror, poor people vote for the people who will defend them. Next you simply misleading your readership by equating JSA as being the major cause of Welfare spending when it is, in fact – pensions.

    • alandbailey

      I worked from the age of 16 to 59 (when I was asked to take “voluntary” redundancy due to ill health).
      I was given to understand that NI was imposed only to pay for pensions and sick pay if needed.
      I have paid my way, it is not my fault that successive governments have incorporated the NI money raised into the general fund of tax receipts.
      Perhaps they should return to the premise that only people that have paid in should get the benefit, instead of handing it out to immigrants and the feckless workshy. I include social housing and other housing benefits etc. that it seems that any young girl can claim for life if she gets pregnant.

  • Jim Moore

    It also shows that the unemployed and poor are only represented by Labour while the other groups do not really offer a platform for the disenfranchised

  • John Smith

    Now, why did I not think of this . .

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  • George Carpenter

    Doesn’t mention the fact that the vast majority of the welfare budget is spent on the state pension, winter fuel allowance, bus pass etc rather than unemployment benefits.
    Guess which demographic group votes Tory?
    Oh yes, the over 65s