Number of employed claiming housing benefit rises by 86% in three years
A new report by the National Housing Federation (NHF) has illuminated an increase of 86% in employed workers claiming housing benefit since 2009.
The report claims that the reason for this is a lack of homes being built, causing demand and rent prices to rise and forcing more families to claim benefits to make up the short-fall.
The 86% increase means that over 10,000 more working families are claiming the benefit, with a total of 417,830 new families claiming in the last three years.
The report, Home Truths 2012, shows that the cost of private rental accommodation has risen by 37% since 2007, and looks set to rise by another 35% by 2018. Additionally, only 111,250 new homes were built in 2011, although 390,000 ‘new families’ were formed.
The lack of housing has caused nationwide increases in rent. A report by LSL Property Services has shown that in September this year, the average rent in the UK hit a new high of £741 per month.
Rent in London saw the nation’s fastest increase at 1.7%, meaning the average rent in the capital now stands at £1092 per month.
David Cameron recently drew criticism over his plan to scrap the benefit for those under the age of 25. In a speech, he said: “We should ask this question about housing benefit: if you’re a young person and you work hard at college, you get a job, you’re living at home with mum and dad. And yet, actually, if you choose not to work, you can get housing benefit, you can get a flat. The system doesn’t work today, so we need to reform it.”
David Orr, chief executive of the NHF, agreed that action desperately needs to be taken. He explained: “This cannot continue – we need action now to address the causes of rising housing costs, not just the symptoms.”
Homeless charity Shelter have said that it is now up to the government to tackle the issues causing people to rely on housing benefit for independence, and agreed that a lack of housing was a root issue.
Shelter’s Chief Executive, Campbell Rob, said: “Every day Shelter speaks to young people and families who are paying the price for a housing crisis that’s been left to reach boiling point. If we want to protect the next generation, we have to invest in building more good quality, affordable homes.”