The number of people ‘in-work’ and claiming Housing Benefit has rocketed by 60% since the coalition government took office in 2010, latest figures show.
According to figures compiled by the House of Commons Library on behalf of the Labour Party, the number of Housing Benefit claimants who are in-work and struggling to keep up with their rent payments increased from 650,561 in May 2010 to 1.03 million by the end of 2013, and is continuing to rise.
It is believed that the shocking increase in the number of working people claiming Housing Benefit will cost taxpayers (which includes the claimants) an estimated £4.8 billion extra by May 2015, rubbishing sensationalist and derogatory articles in the likes of the Daily Mail and The Sun newspapers, who frequently refer to benefit claimants as “skivers” and “scroungers”.
The total amount spent on Housing Benefit is expected to reach £21.9 billion over the five years between 2010 to 2015 and could rise to as much as £25 billion by 2017.
In England alone the number of in-work Housing Benefit claimants has risen by 350,783 since 2010. Scotland has seen the figure rise by 21,409 and in Wales an extra 14,080 working people are now seeking help to pay their rent.
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“These shocking figures expose the complete failure of David Cameron’s government to control housing benefit spending because more people are struggling to pay their rent. Since 2010 there has been a 60% increase in the number of working people claiming housing benefit costing taxpayers a staggering £4.8 billion.
“The huge increase in people who are in work claiming housing benefit is the result of the government’s failure to make work pay, tackle the cost-of-living crisis and build the new homes we need.
“Labour will tackle the rising cost-of-living by freezing gas and electricity bills and we’ll make work pay by restoring the value of the national minimum wage and getting more employers to pay a living wage, ensuring more people earn enough to cover the cost of living.”
Emma Reynolds, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, said:
“There’s a cost-of-living crisis in Britain, but David Cameron hasn’t even recognised there is a crisis, let-alone begun to tackle it.
“This government has presided over the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s. David Cameron’s failure to tackle the housing shortage means the cost of housing is rising out of reach of low-to-middle-income earners.
“The Government’s failure isn’t just affecting those struggling with housing costs – it’s also hitting taxpayers who are picking up the bill.
“You can’t deal with the cost-of-living crisis without building more homes. That’s why Labour has committed to getting at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020. Labour is also committed to reforming the private rented sector by banning rip-off letting agent fees for tenants and introducing long-term stable tenancies with predictable rents.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) told the Independent newspaper:
“The truth is that the housing benefit bill was spiralling out of control in the years up to 2010, doubling to £20 billion in a decade.
“Action this Government has taken is bringing that bill under control – saving the taxpayer over £2 billion a year. Contrary to these figures, we have seen the number of housing benefit claimants fall over the last quarter.
“The removal of the spare room subsidy alone is saving £1 million a day and means the taxpayer is no longer paying for around 820,000 spare rooms in the social rented sector.”
“This Government has also taken action to help hard-working people by increasing the tax-free personal allowance, freezing fuel-duty, cutting energy bills, and introducing free school meals and tax-free childcare.”