GMB study into rented households housing benefit claims

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270,398 private rented households in Southern Region get average of £111.13 per week in housing benefits rising to £169.52 in Elmbridge. “As new claims for support are now via Universal Credit and those who get housing benefit will transfer to Universal Credit, it is essential that the design and implementation is right, which it is not”, says GMB Southern

A new study by GMB shows that there are 270,398 households in private rented accommodation in Southern Region in receipt of housing benefits which averages £111.13 per week.

The average amount per household per week varies depending on the levels of private sector rental. The highest average is in Elmbridge at £169.52 per week. The lowest average is for Thanet at £90.01. Last week GMB published a report on rents for two-bedroom flats in all 77 areas within the region.

The other areas in the top ten for the highest weekly average amount per household per week in housing benefits are: Epsom and Ewell £165.86, Spelthorne £159.31, Woking £157.88, Slough £157.65, Oxford 155.08, Tandridge £149.18, Waverley £148.12, Runnymede £146.57, and Guildford £145.38.

In England there are 1,114,313 households in private rented accommodation getting an average of £115.95.

New claims for housing benefits in all areas can dealt with via Universal Credit by end December. Universal Credit combines benefits for working-age people, replacing income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit, and working tax credit. Transferring current claimants will be trailed from next year until 2020 and will not be completed until 2023.

The figures for all 67 areas in the South East and 10 areas in Dorset and Wiltshire are set out in the table available for download on the right.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said: "These official figures show that there are 270,398 households throughout Southern Region reliant on housing benefits claiming an average of £111.13 per week.

"This shows, in the absence of enough social housing for rent at reasonable rents and the prevalence of poorly paid jobs, the utmost importance of this support for working families to get a roof over their heads.

"All new claims for support with rents are dealt with by Universal Credit. Over the next few years those who get housing benefits will transfer to Universal Credit. So it is essential that the design and implementation of this is done right.

"There is a lot of evidence that it is not right. Universal Credit is used to control and discriminate against non-UK citizens, to discourage single mothers with children under school age from working and to discourage the illiterate, innumerate and those with no access to IT/internet, and it props up the zero hours’ culture and the gig economy.

"People who would previously have been able to claim immediately (if made redundant) through contributions, now have to support themselves for 6 weeks.

"There is the additional problem that disguised cuts to the Working Families tax credits element of Universal Credit is leaving new recipients worse off than they should be.

"In short, it appears to be one almighty mess that serves only to attack claimants and discourage people from part-time or low-paid work. It is urgent that these issues are dealt with properly. Parliament has the job of ensuring that this happens."


Contact: Michelle Gordon 07866 369 259 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114 76


Notes to Editors

1] GMB Press Release – "GMB study into private rental costs" (31 Oct 2018)

2] Sources and Definitions

1. Housing Benefit Claimants in the Private Rented Sector for March 2018 available from Department for Work & Pensions Stat-Xplore database ( Cells in the table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Crown Copyright Reserved.

2. The count of Housing Benefit claimants relates to claimants receiving a payment of at least 50 pence per week on the second Thursday in the month.