Boom Time For Landlords, The UK’s Soaring Housing Benefit Bill

landlord-772876Whilst the Tory Party pat themselves on the back at conference for the misery their welfare reforms have caused, recently updated benefit expenditure figures  make a mockery of any claims that these vicious cuts were carried out to save money.

Housing Benefit (or Local Housing Allowance) makes up one of the largest parts of social security spending and every last penny of it goes to landlords.  Ever since this government weren’t elected they have made brutal cuts to this vital benefit which pays for the UK’s poorest people to have a roof over theirs heads.  Despite this the Housing Benefit bill is soaring and expcted to rise even further.

£24.8 billion was handed out to landlords in the form of Housing Benefit cheques in 2012/13 – the latest year for which exact figures are available.  This is a rise of £2.7 billion, in real terms annual spending on Housing Benefit since the Tories came to power.

Much of this increase is in payments to private sector landlords rather than towards  housing association or council rents.  But it is not soaring private rents that have caused the increase in spending, Housing Benefit rises are now capped at 1% annually whilst total caps on the amount landlords can receive are in place in high rent areas such as the South East of England.  It is claimants who have had to absorb the cost of rent rises, out of already meagre benefits.

Nor is the rise due to people who are unemployed.  Less than £4 bilion of the £24.8 bilion total Housing Benefit spend pays for accommodation for people on unemployment benefits.  Much of the rise is due to new claimants who are in work, which shows the true picture of the UK’s labour market.

Housing Benefit provides a good indicator of how many people in the UK are poor.  It is available to those in or out of work, as well as pensioners.  The only criteria for help with rent payments is an income low enough to qualify and less than £16,000 in assets.  The Tories may claim that the recovery is in full swing, and thousands of pretend jobs have been created, but that doesn’t change the harsh fact that there are now more people poor than at any point since the Housing Benefit system began.

This is reflected in the number of people actually claiming the benefit, which hit a record 5.05 million in 2012/13.  This figure has fallen slightly since last year – by around 25 thousand – but is forecast to rise again and is still almost half a million people higher than in 2009/10.

Surprisingly, another factor that may be driving up the Housing Benefit bill could well be the bungled attempts at cost-cutting reforms – the most notorious being the Bedroom Tax.  There has been no better gift to the landlord class than this nasty policy which is driving people out of secure homes at low, social rents and into the out of control and hugely expensive private sector.  Even the Benefit Cap might be increasing spending on Housing Benefits as families evicted due to no longer being able to afford the rent are rehoused by local authorities in emergency temorary accommodation which can be eye-wateringly expenisve.  Last year the BBC reported on families being placed in £3000 a week hotels after being made homeless due to caps on housing benefits.  The most recent homelessness figures showed the number of families living in B&Bs is at a five year high.

Many tenants are struggling with desperate poverty after cuts to Housing Benefits.  Some Bedroom Tax victims are now paying up to a third of their meagre benefit payments towards the rent.  Yet the cost of Housing Benefit is soaring.  All Iain Duncan Smith has created is more poverty at more cost to the tax payer.  Whatever your political persuasion that is nothing to be fucking cheering about.

You can download the most recent Benefit Expenditure tables at:

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28 responses to “Boom Time For Landlords, The UK’s Soaring Housing Benefit Bill

  1. Tory party conference. The threshold raised on basic income tax from 10,500 to 12,500 the threshold raised on higher taxation from 40,000 to 50,000.
    A £2k raise of threshold for those in the lowest earnings tax bracket and a £10k raise of threshold before the highest earners start paying tax.
    Nothing for those that get paid so low they don’t pay tax at all.


  2. Seriously, if Britain was half the country it imagines itself to be, the peculiar Conservative blend of rampant authoritarianism, utter contempt for the rule of law and basic human decency, and catastrophic economic incompetence would see them facing electoral elimination. But they could end up winning a narrow majority. Why? It’s not JUST because Labour has given up, is it?

    • As far as I’m concerned the entire cabinet should be tried for treason and crimes against humanity. Frankly that should be Labour’s position too, if they weren’t too defeated, dysfunctional and depressed to actually dare express a view.

      Since 2010 we’ve been ruled by what amounts to a fascist junta, with the Lib Dems nothing but a figleaf with “legitimacy” printed on it. That shouldn’t go unpunished.

  3. Pingback: Boom Time For Landlords, The UK's Soaring Housi...

  4. Here’s IDS’s speech at this year’s Tory conference.

    Viewer discretion is advised…

    • Red Triangle Warning! IDS’s speech contains scenes of violent sanctioning and extreme destitution which some viewers may find distressing. Viewer discretion advised! Adults only!

  5. repeat posting.

  6. Rosemarie Harris

    So as usual it’s the poor paying for the rich and thick!

  7. Would that be ‘thick as thieves’?

  8. Pingback: Boom Time For Landlords, The UK’s Soaring Housing Benefit Bill | Britain Isn't Eating

  9. “Modern-day Slavery: Low Pay, No Pay, No Prospects, disguised as employment, Forced Labour and Workfare”

  10. Pingback: Boom Time For Landlords, The UK’s Soaring...

  11. Have a read of this, just seen it on Vox Political blog.

    David Cameron made a clear and very telling Freudian slip during his Conference speech today:
    “This party is the trade union for children from the poorest estates and the most chaotic homes; this party is the union for the young woman who wants an apprenticeship; teenagers who want to make something of their lives – this is who we resent.”

    this is who we resent

  12. It would be interesting to see the nationality of the majority of slum landlords. Suffice to type the majority will be guests in this country. VOTE UKIP.

    • Not only are you racist scum, you miss this economic point: the people UKIP will seek to exclude will NEVER become landlords, and people who become landlords will NEVER be targeted by UKIP.

      If you don’t understand this – if you really can’t grasp that UKIP’s primary purpose is to serve the little people up a scapegoat while capital goes unchecked – then I have to ask: is it because you’re a bit thick, or because you really, really, REALLY don’t want to?

      • Just passing, Keith King’s post is not just about black versus white. Asian estate agents discriminating against black people has been exposed (BBC London). So where do we go from here?. Clearly, there are scum landlords and in certain parts of the UK, a large part of these will be non-British. As already STATED, this is not about Black verses White. So is Keith really a racist scum?

        • how many recent immigrants have the means to set themselves up as slum landlords? presumably Keith means second/third generation immigrants, yet Keith considers them guests despite the fact they were born here. which along with ranting out about foreigners stealing jobs from the indigenous under another post, make him a bit of a racist prick.

        • Yup, he is. Next question?

          And the point you’re making is a complete red herring, far more revealing about your own prejudices than my preconceptions. I’m perfectly happy to accept that people who have to rent are open to abuse by their landlords, whatever the relative races of the two are. Part of that is the rentier mindset; but quite a lot of it is the systematic inequality in the rental market, where successive neoliberal legislation has massively skewed the power balance in favour of landlords – to the point where they now expect, and receive, special praise for doing basically what every landlord should do.

          And UKIP won’t do a fucking thing about that inequity. They’ll just blame immigrants, lock our borders up, and then… they’ll skew the power balance even further towards landlords, exacerbating the problem while claiming to have solved it. Because they’re purely a party of capital.

          (A side observation: Why is it that every racist thinks everyone else is even more obsessed with race than they are but too scared to say so?)

          • There is nothing wrong in Keith King wanting to know, ‘the nationality of the majority of slum landlord’ in the UK. He posed a question, I did my best to answer it and try to understand the true meaning of his question. Education my friend not insults.

            • He didn’t pose a question; he merely used a rhetorical device. The clue was the point at which he supplied his own answer, without evidence or rationale. I doubt he’d have accepted any answer that didn’t accord with his own beliefs.

              Likewise, your answer was not directed at him, but at me – and it seemed to be answering a question nobody’d asked. Which I found a little odd. And since you were talking about race, you clearly weren’t answering his question either – hint: nationality and race are not identical. The only proper answer to his question is that the nationality of the overwhelming majority of slum landlords (or any other kind of landlords) in Britain is obviously British. Obviously. (Just as the vast majority of any country’s worst landlords will be nationals of that country.) And the vast majority of the rest will be above such petty questions as nationality, by virtue of wealth and power.

              There are certainly ways to talk about race which aren’t racist, but rhetorically inquiring as to the “nationality” (meaning race) of X-group-doing-bad-things vs that of Y-group-having-bad-things-done-to-them is not one. And for all your assertions about attempting to find the real meaning of his question, you were oddly uncritical about the contrast between that meaning and the phrasing he used – almost as though you and he shared a core assumption or two. Certainly I believe I was justified in assuming you did.

              As for “education my friend not insults”: fair enough – consider yourself schooled.

  13. Tories make their living by renting their dumps at extortionate prices to the poorest families.

    They along with Labour, also make the children pay their parents rent as well as their poll tax if the parents are unemployed, even though the housing benefit is in the unemployed tenants name, not the childrens.

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