The number of British working-age adults claiming benefits is set to hit six million this month, a UK think-tank has predicted. The centre-right Policy Exchange forecast the rise using official Government figures on benefit claimants and the latest unemployment figures.
The think-tank said the cost of benefits would reach £193 billion next year and called for wholesale reform of the system.
The last official UK Department for Work and Pensions figures released in February showed 5.8 million people were claiming benefits but rising unemployment as a result of the recession would take the figure past six million this month, the think-tank claimed.
Last week UK unemployment figures for the three months to June showed the number of people on Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA) had risen by almost 25,000 to 1.58 million.
Figures in the Budget predicted further rises and assuming no changes in the take-up of other benefits, the number of people claiming support from the state will reach 6.8 million by the end of 2010, the Policy Exchange report claimed.
Neil O'Brien, director of Policy Exchange, said: Any day now the total number on benefits will officially pass the six million mark.
In 1997 we spent £93 billion on social security benefits, but next year we will spend £193 billion. That's twice as much. Instead of investing in the future, we are paying the price for failing to reform the benefits system
The Department for Work and Pensions dismissed the report, insisting it ignored efforts to help people back to work.
A spokeswoman said: Before this recession began, the JSA claimant count was at its lowest level for 30 years. We are investing £5 billion to help people back into work and last month alone we helped over 330,000 people move off unemployment benefits.”
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