Housing benefit claimants ‘up 60%’ since 2010

The number of working people claiming housing benefit has risen by almost 60% since 2010, according to research commissioned by Labour.

Figures compiled by the House of Commons Library for the party suggest 386,000 more people with jobs are receiving the subsidy, up to 1,036,813 in November 2013 from 650,551 in May 2010.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said the increase was set to cost the public purse an extra £4.8 billion over this Parliament.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “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 and forecast to rise further.??

“Action this Government has taken is bringing that bill under control – saving the taxpayer over £2 billion a year. And contrary to these figures, we have seen the number of housing benefit claimants fall over the last quarter.??

“We have 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.”