Housing data sheds light on impact of policies
A comprehensive range of housing data released by the government has shed light on the potential impact of its policies.
The English Housing Survey 2010/11 – Household Report, which was published last week, shows the average weekly payment to housing benefit claimants in the private sector was £107 a week, compared with £71 a week in social housing.
The average payment has fallen slightly from £112 in 2009/10, but the number of private tenants increased from 3.4 million to 3.62 million. Since 1999 the tenure has grown from accounting for 10 per cent of households to 17 per cent. Social housing also accounts for 17 per cent of households, although that figure has remained stable.
Around 24 per cent of private tenants receive housing benefit, compared with 62 per cent in social housing. The average rent in the private sector increased from £156 a week to £160 a week between 2009/10 and 2010/11.
The government is trying to bring down the £21 billion annual housing benefit bill through a range of welfare reforms. However it has also ended its investment in social housing in favour of its affordable homes programme, which allows rents to be set at up to 80 per cent of market rate.
The analysis also reveals the potential impact of other key government housing policies.
It shows the average combined income for the ‘household reference person’ and their partner in social housing was £17,400 a year, compared with £29,000 in the private rented sector, and £40,900 for owner occupiers.
The government is looking to introduce rules to force high-earning social tenants to pay more rent, and is considering household income thresholds of £60,000, £80,000 and £100,000. The survey shows 54,000 social households – around 1.4 per cent – have an income of more than £50,000, but does not break down the figures above this level.
The report also looks at overcrowding and under-occupation, finding 10 per cent of social rented properties are under-occupied, compared with 49 per cent in the owner-occupied sector. The government is planning to penalise working-age social tenants on housing benefit who have spare rooms by cutting their welfare payments.