Six million Britons to claim benefits

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The total number of people claiming benefits in the UK has been forecast to rise to more than 6 million when official figures are published later this month, according to the Conservative think-tank Policy Exchange.

The latest official figures, published in February, showed that the total was 5.8 million. This included 1.4 million on job seekers' allowance and 2.6 million on employment support – until recently known as incapacity benefit. People claiming other benefits – as lone parents, carers and because of disability – are also included.

Neil O'Brien, Director of Policy Exchange, said: "The narrow unemployment figures we are used to seeing tell you less and less about the real number of people who are trapped on benefits."

The DWP disputed the Policy Exchange figures. A spokesman said: "This is simply not true and does not reflect the increased help and support people are getting."

Earlier this month, the government claimed the number of people out of work was 2.4 million.