Private Landlords Double Housing Benefit Haul To £9 .3bn

Tony Gosling tony at
Sun Aug 21 10:00:54 BST 2016

Private Landlords Double Housing Benefit Haul To £9.3bn


By Hannah Richardson BBC News social affairs reporter
    * 20 August 2016

Nearly half of all housing benefit claimants are now in work
Private landlords in the UK received twice as 
much in housing benefit last year – £9.3bn – as 
they did a decade ago, a report says.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) study said 
the increase was due to a big rise in the number 
of private tenants claiming housing benefit.
The NHF said this particular group of people had grown by 42% since 2008.
In 2006, some £4.6bn in housing benefit was paid 
to private landlords, a figure which had more than doubled by 2015.
NHF chief executive David Orr said: “It is 
madness to spend £9bn of taxpayers’ money lining 
the pockets of private landlords rather than investing in affordable homes.”
“The lack of affordable housing available means 
that a wider group of people need housing benefit,” he added.

Working poor

Had these housing benefit claimants been living 
in social housing instead of renting from private 
landlords, taxpayers would have saved huge sums 
of money over seven years, the NHF report estimated.
It said that taxpayers paid £1,000 more per year, 
per family renting in the private rented sector, 
than they did for those in social housing.
This amounted to an average of £2.2bn a year 
extra being handed over to private landlords, at 
a cumulative additional cost of £15.6bn over the 
past seven years, the NHF analysis says.
If this extra housing benefit bill for just one 
year had been spent on creating new affordable 
housing, the NHF added, then nearly 50,000 new homes could have been built.
The report also points out that a larger 
proportion of families claiming housing benefit 
in the private rented sector are now in work.
“Today, nearly half (47%) of all families 
claiming housing benefit in the private rented 
sector are in work – this is nearly double the 
proportion it was six years ago (26%),” the NHF said.

‘Tenants failed’

A government spokesman said it had been taking 
action to bring the housing benefit bill under control.
He said: “Since 2012 the amount going to private 
sector landlords has actually been falling – 
something which the National Housing Federation fails to recognise.”
“We are also committed to building the homes this 
country needs and investing £8bn to build 400,000 more affordable homes.”
Chris Norris, head of policy at the National 
Landlords Association, said the private rented 
sector was responding to the increasing demand 
for homes from a growing proportion of tenants 
who are being failed by the social housing sector and housing associations.
“The NHF is clearly still reeling from the news 
that its members have been ordered by government 
to reduce spending over the next four years, so 
it comes as no surprise that they are looking to 
shift the emphasis and point the finger elsewhere,” he said.
“However, the private rented sector plays a 
pivotal role in providing much-needed homes for 
tenants so there seems no real purpose in the NHF 
taking a cheap shot at landlords for what is a 
failure on behalf of successive governments to 
adequately allocate its housing budget and to 
incentivise the building of new homes.”

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