Analysis of the criminal backgrounds of benefit claimants showed that 33 per cent of Britons claiming Jobseeker's Allowance have a criminal record, The Telegraph reports.
The official analysis made possible by a data sharing agreement between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice found that 26 per cent of the UK's 4.9 million benefit claimants have been cautioned or convicted in the past decade.
Three-quarters of people convicted in 2008 have made a claim for out-of-work benefits at some point over the past two years, while almost half of those released from prison in 2008 were still claiming unemployment benefits two years later.
British ministers described the figures as "truly alarming", and are now planning to unveil specialist work programmes for offenders to prevent them from becoming dependent on the state for life after a conviction.
According to the paper, Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, is expected to announce intensive training programmes for convicts in the new year.
Employers are also likely to be offered "payments for results" to return former criminals to work.
According to the report, the latest figures underline the difficulty of finding employment for people with a criminal record, with many firms wary of recruiting former prisoners.