State support

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • between 2015/16 and 2017/18, over half of families in the UK received some type of state support, such as the State Pension or Child Benefit (a family is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, plus any dependent children)
  • White British families were the most likely to receive state support and Chinese families were the least likely to
  • White British families were also the most likely to receive non-income related benefits, such as the State Pension
  • Bangladeshi and Black families were the most likely to receive income-related benefits, such as help with the cost of housing
  • since 2009/10, the percentage of families getting state support has fallen for all ethnicities, apart from Bangladeshi and Chinese families (up by 1 and 4 percentage points)
Things you need to know

To increase the reliability of the data, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has averaged data across 3 years.

The data comes from the Family Resources Survey (FRS). The FRS can under-report the number of people getting benefits compared with other 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 viewing the data, keep in mind that the measure only includes family setups as defined in 'What the data measures'. It does not include all families or households in the UK.

What the data measures

This data measures the financial support that families receive from the state, broken down by ethnicity.

A family is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, plus any dependent children. The figures relate to families of all ages, including pensioners. Families are also sometimes referred to by the Department for Work and Pensions as ‘benefit units’.

Ethnicity is categorised according to the ethnicity of the person with the highest income, or the oldest person if the couple earns the same.

The data in this analysis groups the types of state support into the following categories:

  • non-income related benefits, where eligibility is not related to someone’s financial means - for example the State Pension
  • income-related benefits, where eligibility depends on someone’s level of income and savings - for example, Housing Benefit
  • benefits which can be either income-related or non-income related - for example, Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • tax credits, where eligibility depends on someone’s level of income and savings - for example, Child Tax Credit

Non-income related benefits include:

Income-related benefits include:

  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit

Benefits which can be both income-related and non-income related include:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance

Tax credits include:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Note that non-income related benefits do not take people's financial means into account, but they do look at other factors, such as disabilities. Also, while eligibility for Child Benefit is not related to income, it is taxable in households where one adult earns more than £50,000 per year.

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

For the purposes of this analysis, DWP has combined JSA claimants (income-related, non-income related, or a mixture of both) and ESA claimants (income-related, non-income related, or a mixture of both) into one group.

The ethnic categories used in this data

The Family Resources Survey uses the following ethnic categories:

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

Percentage of families 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 credits
% % % %
All 18 51 55 9
Asian 16 42 46 15
Bangladeshi 32 49 54 28
Chinese 9 29 33 6
Indian 9 41 43 8
Pakistani 21 46 52 23
Asian other 20 40 47 16
Black 29 45 53 17
Mixed 22 39 45 15
White 17 52 56 9
White British 18 54 57 9
White other 12 35 37 10
Other 21 37 42 14

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of support’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of support’ (CSV)

Summary of State support By ethnicity and type of support Summary

In this data, a family is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • between 2015/16 and 2017/18, 55% of families on average received some kind of state support
  • White British families were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive state support, with 57% doing so
  • families from the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely to, with 33% doing so
  • families from the Bangladeshi ethnic group were the most likely to receive some kind of tax credit (with 28% doing so) or income-related benefit (32%)
  • families from the Chinese ethnic group were the least likely to receive either of these types of support, at 6% and 9%
  • White British families were the most likely to receive some kind of non-income related benefit (at 54%) and Chinese families were the least likely to (at 29%)
  • families were more likely to receive a non-income related benefit, such as the State Pension (51%) than an income-related benefit (18%) or a tax credit (9%)

3. By ethnicity over time

Percentage of families 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 2015/16-2017/18
% % % % % % %
All 62 61 60 58 57 56 55
Asian 49 50 50 49 48 47 46
Bangladeshi 53 52 59 55 56 56 54
Chinese 29 29 31 30 30 32 33
Indian 48 48 48 47 46 45 43
Pakistani 56 59 57 57 53 53 52
Asian other 48 51 49 49 44 45 47
Black 58 60 59 58 54 55 53
Mixed 49 47 46 44 45 44 45
White 63 62 61 59 58 57 56
White British 64 63 62 60 59 58 57
White other 48 47 46 45 42 39 37
Other 55 53 52 49 49 44 42

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of State support By ethnicity over time Summary

In this data, a family is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • from 2009/10 to 2017/18, the percentage of families getting some kind of state support has fallen from 62% to 55%
  • there was an increase in the percentage of families receiving state support within the Bangladeshi ethnic group (from 53% to 54%), and the Chinese ethnic group (from 29% to 33%)
  • all other ethnic groups saw a fall in the percentage of families receiving state support
  • the Other ethnic group saw the biggest decrease (from 55% to 42%); Asian other saw the slowest decrease (from 48% to 47%)
Percentage of families 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 19 7 6 25
Asian 28 5 3 9
Bangladeshi 34 10 5 10
Chinese 18 1 not collected 7
Indian 24 4 3 11
Pakistani 33 6 5 6
Asian other 28 3 2 8
Black 29 6 4 11
Mixed 25 5 4 7
White 18 8 6 27
White British 18 8 7 28
White other 22 3 2 9
Other 24 4 3 8

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of non-income related benefit’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of non-income related benefit’ (CSV)

Summary of State support By ethnicity and type of non-income related benefit Summary

In this data, a family is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • between 2015/16 and 2017/18, an average of 25% of families received a State Pension, 19% received Child Benefit, 7% received the care component of Disability Living Allowance and 6% the mobility component
  • out of all ethnic groups, families from the Bangladeshi and Pakistani groups were the most likely to receive Child Benefit, at 34% and 33%
  • families from the Chinese and White British ethnic groups were the least likely to receive Child Benefit, both at 18%
  • 28% of White British families received the State Pension, more than twice the percentage of any other ethnic group
  • age profiles are helpful in understanding some of these figures – for example, there are more White British people of retirement age, which helps explain why they're more likely to get the State Pension
Percentage of families 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 11 10 2 3
Bangladeshi 23 25 4 3
Chinese 7 4 not collected 2
Indian 6 4 1 3
Pakistani 14 11 3 3
Asian other 13 15 1 2
Black 20 24 4 3
Mixed 15 17 4 1
White 13 11 2 4
White British 13 12 2 4
White other 7 9 1 2
Other 15 18 2 1

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of income-related benefit’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of income-related benefit’ (CSV)

Summary of State support By ethnicity and type of income-related benefit Summary

In this data, a family is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • between 2015/16 and 2017/18, an average of 13% of families received Council Tax Reduction, 12% received Housing Benefit, 4% received Pension Credit and 2% received Income Support
  • families from the Bangladeshi and Black ethnic groups were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to receive Council Tax Reduction (at 23% and 20%) and Housing Benefit (at 25% and 24%)
  • families from the Chinese, Indian and Other White ethnic groups were the least likely to receive Council Tax Reduction (at 7%, 6% and 7%)
  • families from the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups were the least likely to receive Housing Benefit (at 4%)

6. By ethnicity (tax credits only)

Percentage of families receiving tax credits by ethnicity and type of tax credit
Ethnicity Child tax credit Working Tax Credit
% %
All 9 5
Asian 15 9
Bangladeshi 27 16
Chinese 5 4
Indian 7 4
Pakistani 22 14
Asian other 15 9
Black 17 8
Mixed 14 8
White 8 4
White British 8 4
White other 10 6
Other 14 9

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity (tax credits only)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity (tax credits only)’ (CSV)

Summary of State support By ethnicity (tax credits only) Summary

In this data, a family is defined as a single adult or a married or cohabiting couple, plus any dependent children.

This data shows that:

  • between 2015/16 and 2017/18, an average of 9% of families in the UK received Child Tax Credit and 5% received Working Tax Credit
  • families in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnic groups were the most likely to receive both Child Tax Credit (at 27% and 22%) and Working Tax Credit (at 16% and 14%)
  • families from the Chinese, Indian and White British ethnic groups were the least likely to receive both Child Tax Credit (at 5%, 7% and 8%) and Working Tax Credit (at 4% for all 3 groups)

7. Methodology

The Family Resources Survey (FRS) is a continuous household survey of a representative sample of private households in the UK.

Information is recorded on respondents’:

  • income
  • housing tenure (for example, whether they own or rent their home)
  • caring needs and responsibilities
  • disability
  • expenditure on housing
  • education
  • pension scheme participation
  • childcare
  • family circumstances
  • child maintenance arrangements

The survey is conducted in respondents’ homes.

In the latest 3-year period, 2015/16 to 2017/18, the FRS sample consisted of almost 60,000 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). The same individuals are not then approached again (i.e. there is no further ‘wave’ of the survey). Since responses reflect only a sample of the total population, they are weighted on the basis of subnational population totals by age and sex to give estimates for the entire UK household population.

Estimates are subject to sampling error and non-sampling bias. The FRS covers private households only. Individuals living in shared accommodation, such as care homes, or who do not have a fixed address are not included in these results.

The analysis only includes households where every resident over the age of 16 responds. This may introduce some error, as households with residents who do not cooperate may have different characteristics from those that do. Thus the sample will be more representative of those who do respond fully. Overall, 52% of households fully cooperated with the survey, meaning there was a sample size of 19,136 households in 2017/18.

Results from a low number of responses are more likely to be affected by statistical variation, so observed changes might not reflect real differences. Caution is therefore needed when interpreting short-term trends in the data, especially for smaller groups, such as a specific ethnic group. Using a three-year average for income minimises the risks due to uncertainty to an extent.

The ethnic group for the household is based on the ethnic group of the head of the household (the Household Reference Person). This means some individuals will have been assigned an ethnic group to which they do not belong and this may affect estimates based on ethnicity.

As the data is presented as a 3-year average, no statistical tests have been performed 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 is important to consider and means that conclusions around differences between groups cannot be drawn. However, the data is still useful because it indicates where differences between ethnic groups might exist.

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

8. 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 is mainly used by the Department for Work and Pensions to develop and evaluate social welfare policy.

9. Download the data

State support - Spreadsheet (csv) 383 KB

Measure, Time, Time_Type, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_Type, Value, Value_type, Denominator