The state pays the rent for one in five homes in Britain

Zardoz tony at
Wed Nov 4 00:41:38 GMT 2009

The state pays the rent for one in five homes in Britain

By Steve Doughty - 3rd November 2009

Four in ten households in some parts of the country have their rent paid for by the state, Whitehall figures revealed yesterday.

They showed, on average, one in five homes is supported by housing benefit, the taxpayer handout which covers the rent for those on low incomes.

And in London, the figures revealed nearly a quarter of households are now reliant on the benefit.

The figures, disclosed in the Department of Work and Pensions' spending tables, also show that in the North-East, the North-West and Scotland around one in four receive the benefit.

The payout, which was first introduced in 1992 to bring clarity to state rent payments, cost £14.7billion when Labour came to power in 1997.

That figure has since risen by 18 per cent to £17.4billion and is expected to reach almost £21billion next year.

Last night, the Tories claimed the figures were evidence of the Government's failure to reduce benefit dependency.

Theresa May, Tory work and pensions spokesman, said: 'These are shocking figures and once again provide more damning evidence of Labour's failure to tackle welfare reform.

'Housing Benefit can provide valuable help to people in work or pensioners, but the reality is that for far too many people it represents part of a broader picture of benefit dependency.

We need to look very carefully at a system that results in almost half a community reliant on benefits.'

Yesterday's figures showed that the area with the highest level of dependency was Hackney in North- East London, where 42 per cent have their rent paid by the handout.

In five London boroughs - Hackney together with Tower Hamlets, Newham, Haringey and Islington - more than a third of homes receive housing benefit. Outside London, around 30 per cent of homes in Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool are dependant on the handout.

The figures also showed that two out of three claims are made by households containing people of working age, while an astonishing 45 per cent of claims are made by those living entirely on benefits.

Claims have risen by nearly 250,000 in the past year as the recession has deepened, with the average payment standing at £81.03 a week.

However, ministers insisted last night that housing benefit was designed to help those who are not already dependent on the state.

Helen Goodman, work and pensions minister, said: 'Theresa May's position is inconsistent. Only the Tories could call for more support for people on low incomes to go into work one week and criticise it the next.

'The fact is that housing benefit helps people in and out of work. More than half of recipients are not claiming out of work benefits - and include pensioners and many people who already have jobs.' 

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