Nearly a quarter of jobless benefits claimants have a criminal record, study says

 

More than a fifth of out of work benefits claimants have a criminal record according to research published by the Ministry of Justice today.

Some 22 per cent of all the claims - including Jobseeker’s Allowance - were being made by people who had been cautioned or convicted for an offence in the previous 12 years.

The “experimental” study of 4.3 million offenders in England and Wales, those who were matched to at least one benefit or employment record, shows 41 per cent were claiming benefits one month before they were convicted, cautioned or released from prison.

More than half of offenders – 54 per cent - were claiming out-of-work benefits one month after their release from jail, a figure decreasing to 42 per cent two years after.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is hoping reforms aimed with setting up a “through the prison gate” resettlement service to provide continuous support from custody into the community will soon be established to complement the Work Programme, the Government's welfare-to-work programme introduced in 2011.

A prison spell appears to have a greater short-term impact on the employment rate for adult offenders, which falls from 21 per cent one month before sentence to 17 per cent at release and 19 per cent one month after release, the figures show. However, one year after release employment rates for adult prison leavers have recovered to 24 per cent, the same level as one year before sentence.

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said: “Our crucial reforms to rehabilitation will sit hand in glove with the Work Programme. We are committed to delivering long needed changes that will see all offenders released from prison receive targeted support to finally turn themselves around and start contributing to society.”

Andrew Neilson, the director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the statistics “make clear the detrimental impact prison has on future employment and earnings compared to any other sentence from a court”.

He said: “These statistics reinforce the argument that prison should be used sparingly and only when necessary. The costs of prison aren’t simply the exorbitant sums spent on locking people up. There are also the long-term costs to society, including an added burden on the benefits system.”

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “To end the dreary cycle of crime, prison should be reserved for the serious and violent offenders who need to be there and the focus should be on effective resettlement and preparing to lead a responsible life on release. Other offenders should be sentenced to unpaid work in the community to pay back for what they have done. Government figures show that these community sentences work better to cut reoffending than a short spell behind bars.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “More than 1,100 prison-leavers have moved into lasting employment through the Work Programme, helping them turn away from a life of crime and contribute to society instead.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk