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More People Poor Than Ever Before As Numbers Claiming Housing Benefit Hit Record Levels

(7 Posts)
ttosca Wed 29-May-13 23:30:06

The number of people claiming some form of Housing Benefit has hit record levels giving a true indicator of plummeting living standards and high unemployment.

Housing Benefit (now called Local Housing Allowance) is paid to those in and out of work alike, as well as low income pensioners, those on sickness or disability benefits and lone parents. In London it has recently been estimated that 44% of housing benefit claimants are in work but on wages which leave them unable to afford to pay the rent . The only factor taken into account when assessing claims are income and savings, meaning that the number of people on housing benefit gives a good indication of how many people are poor in the UK.

And despite Tory lies about a million new jobs being created, the sad truth is that more people are poor than ever before. Recently released statistics (PDF) show that in February 2013 there were 5.08 million recipients of Housing Benefit, up from 4.74 million in May 2010 when this Government weren’t elected. This is the highest figure since Housing Benefit was introduced in 1983.

The truth is that any job creation which might have taken place has been workfare, low income self-employment, zero hours contracts or part time work, leaving unprecedented numbers of people dependent on some benefits to survive.

The figures also reveal that despite endless propaganda about benefit claimants living in tax payer funded mansions, the average housing benefit entitlement is just £89.30 a week.

Around a quarter of housing benefit recipients are pensioners, a figure which has stayed fairly stable over recent years. Pensioners are exempt from the recent vicious cuts to housing benefit, however 4 million claimants under pensionable age now face this vital benefit being cut due to the bedroom tax, benefit tax, benefit uprating bill and other measures.

Some of those people will be left with just a few pounds a week after paying the rent, whilst others will be driven from their homes completely. Almost every working age Housing Benefit claimant has been affected by the cuts. This means that not only are there more poor people than ever before, but that 4 million of them are now at very real risk of homelessness as incomes shrink and rent rises. A recent DWP report revealed how many landlords are in the process of evicting housing benefit claimants due to the cuts.

Iain Duncan Smith boasted over the weekend that he is prepared to make even further cuts to housing benefits, once again raising the spectre of ending the benefit completely for those under 25. Homelessness is already soaring and the Secretary of State is determined to make the problem even worse. The UK could look like a very different place in just a few years time as vast numbers of people lose their homes. The responsibility for that will not just lie with George Osborne and his fucked economy, but with Iain Duncan Smith’s reckless, bodged and brutal attempts at social security reform.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Theimpossiblegirl Wed 29-May-13 23:36:59

Front cover of tomorrow's Independent- more than 500,000 using food banks. Truly awful for a developed country, or any country for that matter.

racmun Thu 30-May-13 00:08:24

I'll get flamed for this but isn't part of the problem that housing benefit has created a 'false economy' in rental values.

I'm not an economist but the way I see it is if x 000's of people couldn't have paid the rent demanded then the rental market would have had to naturally correct itself to the level which could be afforded whereas we now have the situation where public money has subsidised increased rents for years.

It's a bit like the bubble in house prices that interest only mortgages have helped to create.

That's my simplistic view of the issue.

Also I know it will never happen but the social security system needs to be de politicised. It's just easy point scoring for the useless political parties in this country. If it was depoliticised various governments would probably save billions of pounds in arse covering exercises which they need to use justify their decisions.

It worked for the Bank of England why not the social security system?

MrJudgeyPants Fri 31-May-13 22:37:51

Racmun You are absolutely right to state that housing benefit distorts the market. Of course, the route cause of the issue is supply and demand and the cause of the problem is, unsurprisingly, the government.

Let me explain. The general trend is a need for more houses whether rented or bought. Divorce, longevity, immigration and the need to move around the country to find work all combine to increase demand for housing. The obvious thing to do would be to build more houses and this is where you come to the crux of the problem... THE GOVERNMENT.

I live in Hampshire. It is possible to buy land here for as little as £5k per acre. However, there is a restriction on what you can do with that land and one of those restrictions is that you cannot build on it. If you wanted to buy an acre of land with permission to build on you are talking somewhere around £500k per acre (These are current prices taken from plots of land on This means that the permission to build slip costs around £495k PER ACRE. A massive proportion of the overall cost of a house.

Another way of looking at this is to look at your home insurance policy. Whatever your house is worth on the current market, I guarantee that your insurance will only be for, at most, half of that sum. This is because should a disaster befall your house you will still own the land with planning permission which will retain that status irrespective of what could happen to the bricks and mortar currently on that land.

I'm not advocating that we tear up the countryside and concrete over greenbelt but we need to face facts that more land needs to be made available to build on. Many of the greenbelt laws date back to the days immediately following World War 2 when the UK's population stood at around the 50 million mark (1951 census). Today, the population of a declared 63million (and who knows how many undeclared) is shoe horned into much the same space despite, as mentioned above, us leading more solitary lives.

It's all down to supply and demand really, and how it is managed. It is this lack of management which has seen house prices become unaffordable. The current prices are a reflection of supply and demand. Housing benefit is just a sticking plaster on this underlying problem.

dreamingofsun Fri 07-Jun-13 09:02:04

agree mrjudgey - its a case of supply and demand being out of kilter. demand should also be looked at rather than just arguing we should concrete all over the south.

can we encourage people to cheaper areas of the country, especially those on housing benefit? can we reduce immigration? Can we encourage people to live together (for example removing single person rates discount)?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 07-Jun-13 10:05:22

"can we encourage people to cheaper areas of the country"

I think this is essential. Traditionally people follow the work and live where they can afford. Industrial revolution times, people upped-sticks from the rural areas and settled in towns. Times past we encouraged populations to move overseas and develop colonies. Now we have a very stagnant, stubbornly immobile population, concentrated in a few overcrowded, overpriced regions offset by big swathes of the country, dirt cheap to live in but underutilised and underemployed.

Movement on planning permission only goes so far. Some determined development outside of the SE of England creating jobs and other opportunities is long overdue. Incentives for all parties... employers, government agencies, residents... to facilitate the move.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 24-Jun-13 11:26:48

What's benefit tax and the benefit uprating bill?

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