Every month at this time I report on the latest monthly Housing Benefit figures. which annoyingly state the overall picture 3 months previously. So the May release today detaisl he picture at February 2012. For comparison, the figures are released on the same day as the unemployment figures which detail the picture of just 1 month previous. Why this disparity remains is frustrating.
The number of persons in receipt of Housing Benefit broke through the 5 million mark for the first time ever to stand at 5,004,500 an increase of 28,290 on the previous months figure.
Of the 28,290 increase we find council house claimants up 5,160 (18% of monthly increase); housing assocation claimants up 8,240 (29%); and private tenants up 14,800 (53%)
The total HB bill now stands at £22.7bn up from £22.56bn the month before and yet another increase taking this to be £4.7bn above the government target of £18bn set in June 2010.
Since the last election in May 2010 social housing claimants (council and housing association) account for 79,720 of the 252,970 new claimants (32%) and private llandlord tenants make up 172,820 of the new claimants. So 68% of new HB claimants since the election are tenants of private sector landlords.
Over the last 12 months the number of HB claimants has increased by 2.86% – a figure whose relevance I will comment upon below.
In October and November 2011 I commented that figures were beginning to emerge of what I termed the London HB diaspora. Put simply this London HB diaspora is that many expected the HB (LHA) caps to see claimants in the cpaital moving from higher cost Inner London boroughs to lower cost Outer London boroughs. The latest figures confirm that starkly and the detail is presented below as two simple graphs for Inner London and Outer London claimant numbers.
I have taken the claimant count in all London boroughs at Februray 2011 and added to these with the expected increase which nationally stands at 2.86%. I have then compared these expected figures with the actual figures for February 2012.
By way of explanation using for example Camden which had 28,450 claimants in February 2011 that would suggest an expected figure of 29,264 in February 2012 to reflect the 2.86% increase and in figures a rise of 814 claimants.
The tables for Inner London and Outer London boroughs are below and the London HB diaspora now has some figures to show strakly this is happening.
Chart 1 – Inner London Boroughs
With the exception Of LB Newham every other Inner London borough has had much lower than expected increases in HB claimants. Camden, City of London, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea all saw an actual fall in overall HB claimants. The average Inner London borough even including Newham has seen 399 fewer claimants than expected.
So on 14 Inner London boroughs we see 5,586 fewer than expected new HB claimants
The comparison with the actual versus expected figures for Outer London Boroughs below is stark.
Chart 2 Outer London Boroughs
We can see that 12 of the 19 Outer London boroughs have had much higher new claimants than was expected – on average 285 more HB claims more than the expected increase.
So on 19 Outer London boroughs we see 5415 more new HB claimants than expected.
In summary Inner London had 5586 fewer claimants than expected in the yer to February 2012 yet Outer London had 5415 more than expected. The statistical evidence is really beginning to emerge to show the London HB diaspora is much more than a theory as to what will happen after the HB caps, it now has figures to reveal this to be reality.