Housing benefits to private landlords in South East cost government over £891 million a year
“A change of policy to shift away from housing benefits to direct provision of council housing is long overdue. It will save money in the long run too”, says GMB Southern
In February 2019 there were 122,856 recipients of housing benefits in the South East. This is 21.23% of all private rented households in the South East. With the average recipient receiving around £140 per week, this means housing benefits in the South East are costing the government £891.3 million every year.
The area in the South East which is home to the most housing benefit recipients in the private rented sector is Medway which has 5,908. This is 32.55% of all privately rented households in the area. Each recipient in Medway receives an estimated £6,840.08 a year in housing benefits, meaning the estimated spend on housing benefits per year in Medway is £40.4 million.
Next in the list is Portsmouth which has 4,675 housing benefit recipients in the private rented sector, who receive a total of £28.1 million a year; followed by Thanet which has 4,659 recipients costing a total of £25.1 million a year; Isle of Wight has a total of 4,659 recipients, costing a total of £19.2 million a year; Arun has 3,604 recipients costing a total of £28.1 million a year; and Slough has 3,361 recipients of housing benefits costing £30.8 million a year.
The figures covering 64 areas in the South East are set out in the table below, ranked by the highest number of housing benefit recipients in the private rented sector taken from February 2019. This is from a new study by GMB Southern Region of official data for 64 areas in the South East. It compares the number of privately rented households per area, the number of those receiving housing benefits, the average a household receives in housing benefits per week and per year, and the annual cost of housing benefits for the area.
||All Privately Rented Households (2011)||Housing Benefit recipients in the Private Rented Sector (May 2019)||% of Housing Benefits recipients in private renting sector||Mean of Weekly Award Amount (£) of Housing Benefit paid to Private Landlords - (April 2018 - Feb 2019)||Estimated Annual Housing Benefits Paid to Claimants||Estimated Annual Housing Benefits Cost per Area (£m)|
|4||Isle of Wight||10,639||3,830||36||96.34||5,009.68||19.2|
|26||Reigate and Banstead||7,169||1,500||20.92||175.95||9,149.40||13.7|
|36||Tonbridge and Malling||4,869||1,225||25.16||160.15||8,327.80||10.2|
|39||Basingstoke and Deane||8,172||1,143||13.99||153.82||7,998.64||9.1|
|45||Windsor and Maidenhead||9,432||1,004||10.64||140.93||7,328.36||7.4|
|54||Epsom and Ewell||3,962||815||20.57||173.4||9,016.80||7.3|
|61||Vale of White Horse||6,733||678||10.07||149.61||7,779.72||5.3|
Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said: "Housing benefit was introduced by the Tories in the 1980s as an alternative to providing genuinely affordable council housing for lower paid households. There was a prejudice against councils providing housing at genuinely affordable rents for lower paid households.
"Housing benefits has proved to be an incredibly expensive alternative to the direct provision of council housing for lower paid households, and is often paid straight on by the recipient to bolster the profits of private landlords.
"Any rational approach to policy would seek to reverse this way of paying to house lower paid households. It is high time that this be widely recognised and that national and local government end the prejudice against council housing.
"A change of policy to shift away from housing benefits to direct provision of council housing is long overdue. It will save money in the long run too.
"It is 100 years ago that national government made grants available for local government to build huge council estates right across the country. This spirit needs to be found again for a crash programme for new council homes.
"At the same time there has to be an end to the urge to demolish existing council estates and replace them with up market private homes."
Contact: Michelle Gordon 07866 369259 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114762
GLA: housing tenure by borough tables created by aggregating the Annual Population Survey household dataset. https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/housing-tenure-borough
1/ 2011 Census: Key Statistics for England and Wales, March 2011, Table KS402EW
The census provides estimates of the characteristics of all people and households in England and Wales on census night. These are produced for a variety of users including government, local and unitary authorities, business and communities. The census provides population statistics from a national to local level.
a. ONS has ensured that the data collected meet users' needs via an extensive 2011 Census outputs consultation process in order to ensure that the 2011 Census outputs will be of increased use in the planning of housing, education, health and transport services in future years.
b. Any reference to local authorities includes both local and unitary authorities.
c. Figures in this publication may not sum due to rounding. Percentage point changes in the text are based on rounded data.
d. The England and Wales census questionnaires asked the same questions with one exception; an additional question on Welsh language was included on the Wales questionnaire. Housing Benefit claimants are not included in the samples used in for these data.
Please note that since 2011, there have been some changes with regards to local government organisation. Find out more here https://www.oscar-research.co.uk/documents/LocalGovtChanges19.pdf
2/ Department for Work and Pensions (WP): Housing Benefit Statistics Stat-Xplore provides a guided way to explore DWP benefit statistics