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A third of unemployed people in Britain claiming unemployment benefits have a recent criminal record, according to official statistics.

The criminal backgrounds of benefit claimants was revealed by data that showed 33 percent of Britons on Jobseeker's Allowance have a criminal record. Tens of thousands more also claim other benefits, such as disability allowance, said the Daily Telegraph report.

Analysis of Department of Work and Pensions and Minsitry of Justice data found that 26 percent of the UK's 4.9 million benefit claimants have been cautioned or convicted over the past decade.

Three-quarters of people convicted in 2008 have claimed unemployment benefits at some stage over the past two years, while almost half of those released from prison in 2008 were still claiming unemployment benefits two years later.

The annual cost is about £8 billion.

Ministers have described the figures as "truly alarming" and are preparing to disclose plans for specialist work programmes for offenders to prevent them from becoming dependent on the state for life following a conviction.

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, is expected to announce training programmes for convicts, while employers are likely to be offered "payments for results" to help former criminals return to work.

"This is the first time any government has done detailed analysis of the link between offending and the welfare state, and it paints a truly alarming picture," said Chris Grayling, the minister for employment.

"This just underlined why we have said that Britain needs a rehabilitation revolution, and particularly to help former offenders into sustained employment," he said.

The data emphasises the difficulty that former criminals face in finding work, with many companies reluctant to hire people with a criminal record.

The figures come as a new study shows that job hunters face the toughest market in two decades as the number of those employed is expected to drop by 120,000 in 2012, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The unemployment total is projected to hit 2.85 million and continue to rise until mid-2013, when it is expected to peak at 2.9 million.

There are 2.64 million people out of work in the UK, making the current unemployment rate 8.3 percent.