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The UK’s housing benefit bill is said to have risen in recent years due to the increase of working people needing help for housing, it has been reported.
Figures from the House of Commons library show that the number of working people claiming housing benefit looks set to double between 2010-11 and 2018-19, which could cost around £12.9 billion (or £488 per household) during that period.
It is thought that the increase is reflective of the number of people currently in part-time or low-paid work that need help paying for suitable housing. According to the Labour party, these figures are exacerbated by the rising housing costs for those in work and the growth of the private rented sector since the 1990s.
Since market liberalisation (which included the end of all rent control), rent prices have risen sharply and large numbers of authority-owned properties have been transferred to housing associations.
This meant that more people were forced to require subsidies for rent through housing benefit; a sect that has continued to grow for the last ten years.
Rachel Reeves, the Labour shadow work and pensions secretary, is set to give a series of speeches named The Choice, in which she will explain that the number of working people claiming housing benefit is set to increase because of the Tory government’s failure to “tackle low pay, insecure work and the cost-of-living crisis”.[quote]That’s meant thousands more people have been forced to rely on housing benefit to make ends meet,”[/quote]
Reeves concluded, according to The Guardian.
She went on to promise that she will “raise the minimum wage, introduce living wage contracts and get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020.”[quote]This will help to tackle the housing benefit bill and ensure working people can make ends meet,”[/quote]
The coalition has so far attempted to cut the housing benefit bill by placing a cap of £500 on families with children and £350 for those without. Meanwhile, the bedroom tax has also led to a housing benefit reduction of 25% for social tenants with spare bedrooms. Other cuts have included the local housing allowance, a private sector subsidy that so far as failed to cut rent prices.
Labour has branded the bedroom tax as one of the most “unpopular and unworkable” welfare reforms of the coalition. More recently, this view has spread to the Liberal Democrats, who also agreed that the bedroom tax “is not working”.
Chancellor George Osborne has said he will seek another £12 billion in welfare cuts after the election, with centre right thinktanks anticipating a blueprint soon.