Number of working people claiming housing benefit set to double, Labour warns

4 August 2014

The growing housing benefit bill, particularly for those in work, is responsible for much of the increase in welfare costs, rather than out of work benefits for the idle poor, argues Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary.

Using figures drawn from the House of Commons library, she argues that the number of working people claiming housing benefit is due to double between 2010/11 and 2018/19. This increase in working people claiming housing benefit would cost £12.9 bn – or £488 for every British household between 2010/11 and 2018/19.

The bulk of the increase will come in rent subsidies in the private sector and, in part, reflects the number of people in part-time or low-paid work. Housing benefit makes up about 14% of welfare spending, much of which goes into the hands of private landlords.

As one of a series of summer shadow cabinet speeches, branded The Choice, Reeves will say the “number of working people claiming housing benefit is set to double because the Tory government has failed to tackle low pay, insecure work and the cost-of-living crisis. That’s meant thousands more people have been forced to rely on housing benefit to make ends meet”.

She will promise to “raise the minimum wage, introduce living wage contracts and get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 to tackle the housing benefit bill and ensure working people can make ends meet”.

Click on the links for the story from the Guardian and  Independent.