Housing benefit claims reach record level
The number of housing benefit claimants in the United Kingdom has broken the five million barrier for the first time.
Statistics published by the Department of Work and Pensions this week reveal that as of February this year there were slightly more than 5 million people claiming housing benefit, an increase of 28,290 on the figures for January.
The numbers of social renters claiming housing benefit increased by 13,410 to 3.37 million, while there are now 1.63 million private renters claiming housing benefit, up by 14,880.
Separate DWP statistics published yesterday reveal £1 billion of housing benefit was overpaid due to fraud or error in 2011/12. This equates to 4.4 per cent of total housing benefit expenditure of £22.7 billion, down from 4.6 per cent the previous year.
In total the government overpaid £3.2 billion in benefits, 2 per cent of the total £159 billion annual benefits bill.