In recent weeks the number of Housing Benefit claimants reached five million for the first time. Despite recent interest in welfare reform this landmark passed almost without comment. It means that around one in five households in Great Britain are now claiming Housing Benefit to help cover their housing costs. At BSHF we have been taking a detailed look at this trend and recently published our analysis as The Growth of In-work Housing Benefit Claimants: Evidence and policy implications.
Housing Benefit has been the subject of renewed attention since the last general election. The Welfare Reform Act, which recently gained Royal Assent, contained a variety of measures designed to limit Housing Benefit expenditure. These include the ‘bedroom tax’ for under occupation, changes to the calculation of inflation and tighter limits on claims by younger tenants.
What the measures had in common was the intention of limiting the amount of Housing Benefit that each household can claim. However, it is the growth of claimant numbers which has been the major driver of increases in Housing Benefit expenditure since the start of the global financial crisis.