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Number of adult learners on benefits falls to five-year low

Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the number of adult learners receiving benefits fell by more than 150,000

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Between 2011-12 and 2015-16, the number of adult learners receiving benefits fell by more than 150,000

The number and proportion of adult learners who are claiming out-of-work benefits has fallen, official figures reveal.

Last year, 337,700 learners in FE aged 19-64 claimed out-of-work benefits, such as jobseeker's allowance and incapacity benefit, at the start of their courses – down from 443,100 learners in 2014-15 and from a peak of 632,300 in 2012-13 – according to recently published statistics from the Department for Education.

Meanwhile, the proportion of learners claiming these benefits at the start of their courses dropped from 37.2 per cent to 27.1 per cent between 2013-14 and 2015-16. In 2012-13, 46.6 per cent of learners claimed them when they started their course.

The proportion of adults starting an apprenticeship after receiving benefits in the six months prior also fell – from 10.5 per cent (37,900) to 8.3 per cent (30,800) between 2014-15 and 2015-16. 

In April the government blocked a move to entitle families of apprentices to claim child benefit under the Technical and Further Education Act. According to then-skills minister Robert Halfon, the move would have cost the government more than £200 million.

"One of the core principles of an apprenticeship is that it is a job and it is treated accordingly in the benefits system," Mr Halfon said.

The DfE has been contacted for comment.

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