Housing Benefit claimants

The total number of families receiving Housing Benefit has fallen but the number of in-work claimants continues to rise. Of the 1.8 million recipients with children, 750,000 were in private rented housing.

In 2015 there were 4.8 million families in receipt of Housing Benefit. Most families –2.7 million – claiming Housing Benefit are workless and living in the social rented sector (this includes pensioner recipients). Some 1 million were workless and living in the private rented sector. The remaining 1.1 million were in working families, half in private rented and half in social rented housing.

Following years of increases, the number of Housing Benefit claimants peaked in 2013 at 5.1 million and has been falling steadily since. The number of workless claimants was relatively high from 2009 to 2013 in line with the high numbers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance following the recession. Since 2013 the number of workless families receiving Housing Benefit has fallen as unemployment has fallen. But the number of working families claiming continues to increase, with 2015 seeing the highest number to date. So while the total number of recipients in 2015 was 220,000 lower than the 2013 peak, the number in workless families was 340,000 lower and the number in working families 120,000 higher.

A quarter of Housing Benefit recipients in 2015 were aged 65 and over (1.3 million), and the vast majority of these lived in the social rented sector. There were 2.6 million Housing Benefit recipients aged between 25 and 54 with the number spread relatively evenly within these age groups. But among the younger age group a higher proportion live in the private rented sector (45 per cent among 25–34-year-olds compared with 33 per cent of 45–54-year-old recipients). 1.8 million recipient families contained children, 750,000 of whom lived in private rented housing.

Indicator: 42A

Indicator: 42B

about the indicator

The first graph shows the number of Housing Benefit claimants in May of each year. The data is broken down by tenure (social and private renters) and work status. The line on the graph shows the number of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants.

The second graph shows the number of Housing Benefit claimants by age in February 2014. They are split by tenure of the claimant and by whether or not they have dependent children.

Reliability rating: high. The data is administrative data collected and published by DWP.

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