Here is why Labour Won’t Discuss Welfare

Alex MacDonald & Daniel Pryor

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. 


  1. Welfare spending is approximately 3 times the size of defence spending.

    So what, blaming welfare spending on JSA claimants? So JSA claimants are to be blamed for the welfare budget, the vast majority of which is spent on pensions.
    JSA claimants only account for less than 3% of the welfare budget.
    JSA claimants account for less than 1% of total government spending.
    I’m a JSA claimant, I work for my dole. I work 30 hours per week at a for profit public limited company (whom I have already saved from getting a £4500 fine by getting their accounts finished in time which where 18 months behind & had only 2 weeks to get them in before being fined again), for which I should get paid £195 per week at minimum wage, yet I only get £70 per week for working 4 days per week.
    It doesnt save the tax payer any money, it only saves the for profit public limited company from paying wages, they get free labour & pay nothing for it, in the mean time I’m being paid £125 per week less than minimum wage. Dont believe the lies about it only being for charities & community projects.
    Of course all these free jobs used to be paid for jobs, but now they know they can get free labour from the dole, they are no longer offered as paid jobs.

  2. 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

  3. […] Parliament. With its MPs controlling some of the poorest constituencies following the recession, 42 out of the top 50 claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance, they have seen first-hand what it can do to people’s lives. The party realise that something has […]

  4. 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

  5. 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.

    • 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.

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

  7. 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.

    • I take it you know that 1 of the 1st things they do if you claim JSA is
      remove you from the electoral roll, no reason in law for doing it.

      So you want people to go to work for only one third of minimum wage, (whilst you get at least minimum wage & all the other employments rights that they havent yet removed), & now you want them to be denied the vote.
      So somehow you’re special & should get full pay & get a vote.
      Who else will you deny the vote to? How about blacks, muslims, women, gays? Morally wrong & definitely not PC, yet you will have the vote denied to JSA claimants that work (we’ll ignore that bit) & dont get paid what the law says is the minimum to pay someone for working (we’ll ignore that bit).

  8. 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…

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • Because 1 of the first things that happens when you claim JSA is you get removed from the electoral roll, entirely unreported by the media & no basis in law for doing so. Plus there is no one to represent them anyway, Labour dont, only slightly less so than the Tories.

  9. 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.


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