1. Main facts and figures

  • between 2014/15 and 2016/17, 56% of family units in the UK received some type of state support on average – a ‘family unit’ in this data is a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple plus any dependent children
  • White British family units were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive state support (of any type) and Chinese family units were the least likely to
  • White British family units were also the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive non-income related benefits (which include the State Pension and Child Benefit)
  • family units in the Bangladeshi, Black, Mixed, Pakistani, and Other ethnic groups were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive income-related benefits and tax credits
  • since 2009/10, the percentage of family units receiving any type of state support has declined for all ethnic groups apart from the Bangladeshi and Chinese groups
Things you need to know

Because of variations in the data from year to year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) takes 3 years’ worth of data and works out the average for that period. It does that every year, so each year there’s a new 3-year average. For example, the published data for the period from 2014/15 to 2016/17 is an average of the data for 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.

While this type of survey methodology increases the reliability of the data, it means that tests for significant differences between ethnic groups have not been carried out. However, commentary has been supplied for those findings where differences between ethnic groups are reasonably reliable.

A household is one person or a group of people (not necessarily related) who have the accommodation as their only or main residence. If it is a group, they must share cooking facilities and also share a living room, sitting room or dining area.

Some households contain people from different ethnic backgrounds; in these circumstances, the ethnic background of the ‘household reference person’ is used to define the ethnic background of the household.

The household reference person is the person in whose name the dwelling is owned or rented or who is otherwise responsible for the accommodation.

The Family Resources Survey has been shown to under-report the number of people receiving benefits compared with administrative records held by DWP. For this reason, the percentages given here are likely to be slightly lower than the actual percentage of claimants in the population.

When analysing the data, keep in mind that the measure only includes family units as defined here (see 'What the data measures'). It does not include all families or households in the UK.

What the data measures

This data measures the different types of financial support family units receive from the state, and breaks this information down by ethnicity.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) uses the term ‘benefit unit’ to refer to a family unit made up of a single adult, or a married or cohabiting couple (including same-sex partners), plus any dependent children.

These benefit, or family, units contain a maximum of 2 adults and are categorised according to the ethnicity of the ‘head of benefit unit’. The head of the benefit unit is the adult with the highest income, or, in cases where the income of both adults is equal, the oldest adult.

For the purposes of this analysis, the data groups the types of state support into the following categories:

  • any type of state support – this can consist of income-related benefits, non-income related benefits, tax credits or a combination of all three
  • any non-income related benefits (which are dependent on the recipient’s circumstances and not means-tested) – for example, Child Benefit, State Pension, and Disability Living Allowance (divided into the benefit’s care component and disability component)
  • any income-related benefits (which are means-tested and dependent on level of income and savings) – for example, Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit, Income Support, and Pension Credit
  • benefits which can be either income-related or non-income related – for example, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • any type of tax credit (which are means-tested and dependent on the income level of a family unit) – for example, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit

For the purposes of this analysis, DWP has grouped together all claimants of JSA (income-related, non-income related, or a mixture of both) and all claimants of ESA (income-related, non-income related, or a mixture of both).

Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments are not included in this data as claimants are not required to provide their ethnicity when making a claim.

Most benefits are administered by DWP. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction are administered by local authorities.

The ethnic categories used in this data

This data uses the ethnic categories included in the Family Resources Survey. It also divides the White ethnic group into White British and 'White Other' (for White ethnic minorities).

The categories are as follows:

Asian/ Asian British:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Chinese
  • Asian Other

Black/African/Caribbean/Black British

Mixed/ Multiple ethnic groups

White:

  • White British
  • White Other

Other

2. By ethnicity and type of support (all state support)

Percentage of family units receiving state support, by ethnicity and type of support
Ethnicity Any income-related benefit Any non-income related benefit Any type of state support Any type of tax credit
% % % %
All 19 52 56 10
Asian 17 43 47 16
Bangladeshi 34 50 56 30
Chinese 10 28 32 6
Indian 10 43 45 9
Pakistani 24 46 53 24
Asian other 17 40 45 15
Black 30 46 55 18
Mixed 22 38 44 16
White British 19 54 58 9
White other 13 36 39 11
Other 24 38 44 14

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

For the purposes of this data, a ‘family unit’ is a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple (including same-sex partners), plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • overall, 56% of family units in the UK received some type of state support during the period studied
  • White British family units were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive some type of state support (at 58%), and family units in the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely to (at 32%)
  • overall, family units were more likely to receive a non-income related benefit like the State Pension or Child Benefit (52% did so) than an income-related benefit (19%) or a tax credit (10%)
  • family units from the Bangladeshi ethnic group were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive a type of tax credit (30% did so) and a type of income-related benefit (34%); Chinese family units were the least likely to receive either of these types of support (6% and 10% did so respectively)
  • White British family units were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive a type of non-income related benefit (54%) and family units from the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely to (28%)
Percentage of family units receiving non-income related benefits by ethnicity and type of benefit
Ethnicity Child Benefit Disability Living Allowance (care component) Disability Living Allowance (mobility component) State Pension
% % % %
All 20 6 5 25
Asian 27 4 3 9
Bangladeshi 36 7 4 9
Chinese 17 not collected not collected 8
Indian 24 4 3 12
Pakistani 33 5 4 6
Asian other 27 2 1 9
Black 30 5 4 11
Mixed 25 3 3 8
White British 18 6 6 28
White other 22 2 2 9
Other 24 3 1 7

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

For the purposes of this data, a ‘family unit’ is a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple (including same-sex partners), plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • overall, 25% of family units in the UK received the State Pension, 20% received Child Benefit, 6% received the care component of Disability Living Allowance and 5% received the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • family units from the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive Child Benefit (at 36% and 33% respectively) and those from the Chinese and White British ethnic groups were the least likely to (at 17% and 18% respectively)
  • 28% of White British family units received the State Pension, more than twice the proportion of any other ethnic group
  • these figures are likely to reflect differences in the age profiles of the different ethnic groups – for example, the White British ethnic group has the highest percentage of people aged 65 years and over, and also the highest percentage of people receiving the State Pension
Percentage of family units receiving income-related benefits by ethnicity and type of benefit
Ethnicity Council Tax Reduction Housing Benefit Income Support Pension Credit
% % % %
All 13 12 2 4
Asian 12 10 3 3
Bangladeshi 25 24 7 2
Chinese 8 5 1 2
Indian 7 6 1 3
Pakistani 15 13 4 3
Asian other 11 13 1 2
Black 21 24 5 3
Mixed 16 17 4 2
White British 13 12 2 4
White other 9 10 1 2
Other 18 20 4 2

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

For the purposes of this data, a ‘family unit’ is a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple (including same-sex partners), plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • overall, Council Tax Reduction is the most commonly-claimed income-related benefit (claimed by 13% of family units in the UK), followed by Housing Benefit (12%), Pension Credit (4%), and Income Support (2%)
  • family units in the Bangladeshi, Black and Other ethnic groups were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive Council Tax Reduction (at 25%, 21% and 18% respectively) and Housing Benefit (at 24%, 24% and 20% respectively)
  • family units from the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to receive Council Tax Reduction (at 8% and 7%) and Housing Benefit (at 5% and 6% respectively)

5. By ethnicity (Jobseeker's Allowance, or Employment and Support Allowance)

Percentage of family units receiving JSA or ESA
Ethnicity Employment and Support Allowance Jobseeker's Allowance
Value Value
All 4 2
Asian 2 2
Bangladeshi 3 2
Chinese 1 not collected
Indian 2 1
Pakistani 3 4
Asian other 3 2
Black 4 5
Mixed 4 4
White British 4 2
White other 1 1
Other 3 3

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

For the purposes of this analysis, DWP has grouped together all claimants of JSA, and all claimants of ESA, regardless of whether their benefit is income-related, non-income related, or a combination of both.

A ‘family unit’ in this data is a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple (including same-sex partners), plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • overall, 4% of family units in the UK received ESA and 2% received JSA
  • family units in the White British, Mixed, and Black ethnic groups were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive ESA (all at 4%) and family units from the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely to (at 1%)
  • Black family units were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive JSA (at 5%) and family units from the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely to (at under 0.5%)

6. By ethnicity (tax credits only)

Percentage of family units receiving tax credits by ethnicity and type of tax credit
Ethnicity Child Tax Credit Working Tax Credit
% %
All 9 5
Asian 15 9
Bangladeshi 29 15
Chinese 6 4
Indian 8 4
Pakistani 23 14
Asian other 14 8
Black 18 8
Mixed 15 8
White British 8 4
White other 11 7
Other 13 7

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

For the purposes of this data, a ‘family unit’ is a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple (including same-sex partners), plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • overall, 9% of family units in the UK received Child Tax Credit and 5% received Working Tax Credit
  • family units from the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive Child Tax Credit (at 29% and 23% respectively) and Working Tax Credit (at 15% and 14% respectively)
  • family units from the Chinese, Indian and White British ethnic groups were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to receive Child Tax Credit (at 6%, 8% and 8% respectively) and Working Tax Credit (all at 4%)

7. By ethnicity over time (all state support)

Percentage of family units receiving state support by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2009/10-2011/12 2010/11-2012/13 2011/12-2013/14 2012/13-2014/15 2013/14-2015/16 2014/15-2016/17
% % % % % %
All 62 61 60 58 57 56
Asian 49 50 50 49 48 47
Bangladeshi 53 52 59 55 56 56
Chinese 29 29 31 30 30 32
Indian 48 48 48 47 46 45
Pakistani 56 59 57 57 53 53
Asian other 48 51 49 49 44 45
Black 58 60 59 58 54 55
Mixed 49 47 46 44 45 44
White British 64 63 62 60 59 58
White other 48 47 46 45 42 39
Other 55 53 52 49 49 44

Download table data (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

For the purposes of this data, a ‘family unit’ is a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple (including same-sex partners), plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • overall, the percentage of family units in the UK receiving state support (of any type) has decreased from 62% to 56% over the period studied
  • there was an increase in the percentage of family units receiving state support in the Bangladeshi ethnic group (from 53% to 56%) and the Chinese ethnic group (from 29% to 32%)
  • all other ethnic groups saw a decrease in the percentage of family units receiving state support over the period studied

8. Methodology

The Family Resources Survey (FRS) is a continuous household survey which collects information on a representative sample of private households in the UK. Detailed information is recorded on respondents’ income from all sources:

  • housing tenure
  • caring needs and responsibilities
  • disability
  • spending on housing
  • education
  • pension scheme participation
  • childcare
  • family circumstances
  • child maintenance

The survey is conducted in respondents’ homes. In the latest 3-year period, 2014/15 to 2016/17, the FRS sample consisted of just over 58,000 households in the UK. It has a financial-year survey period with surveys conducted throughout the year and is cross-sectional (a ‘snapshot’ of households over the year). Individuals are not followed up for later surveys.

Estimates are subject to sampling error and non-sampling bias. The FRS only covers private households. Therefore, individuals who live in communal accommodation like care homes or have no fixed address (for example, who are homeless) are not included in these results.

Households where every resident aged 16 years and over responds to the questions are classed as fully co-operating. Only households with full co-operation are included in the analysis. This may introduce some error, as the characteristics of individuals living in households which do not respond fully may be different to those who fully co-operate. Therefore, the sample will be more representative of those who do respond fully. Overall, 54% of households fully co-operated with the survey, meaning there was a sample size of 19,387 households in 2016/17.

Results derived from a low number of responses are more likely to be affected by statistical variation, so observed changes might not reflect real differences. As such, caution is needed when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for subgroups (for example, a specific ethnic group, age group and gender). Using a 3-year average for income minimises the risks due to uncertainty.

As the data is presented as a 3-year average, no statistical tests have been carried out to determine whether the estimates taken from the survey are statistically significantly different from one another.

In other words, as the results are based on a sample of the population, without further testing it isn’t possible to determine whether any differences observed would likely be seen across the entire population. This means that conclusions about differences between groups cannot be drawn. However, the data is still useful because it indicates where differences between ethnic groups might exist.

Weighting:

Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.

For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know has an even 50/50 split.

Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.

Survey weights are usually applied to make sure the survey sample has broadly the same gender, age, ethnic and geographic make up as the general population.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Any values based on fewer than 100 responses have been suppressed.

Rounding

Percentages are given to the nearest whole percentage point. Due to this rounding, some figures may not add up.

Related publications

Family Resources Survey with previous years' data and background information.

Quality and methodology information

9. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Family Resources Survey (FRS) provides the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with data to inform the development, monitoring and evaluation of social welfare policy.

The survey is used by many other government departments, and for tax and benefit policy modelling by HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs. The FRS is also used extensively by academics and research institutes for social and economic research.

10. Download the data

State support received - Spreadsheet (csv) 45 KB

This file contains data for the 3-year period 2009/10 to 2016/17. This is the latest data available. This file contains: measure, ethnicity, year, value