HB claimants – working and unemployed

Yesterday I released a blog on the latest monthly HB data for April 2012.  April is always an unusual month as it factors in the yearly rent rises in social housing which takes place mostly in April.  The HB overall cost rose sharply by £600m despite the numbers of claimants reducing by 1,950.

I also commented that the numbers of those in work claiming HB had risen again and since the last election in May 2010 there has been 261,170 new claimants of which 240,500, or 92%, have been working.

What I failed to notice and report on is the sharp declien in the numbers of those unemployed and seeking work – by definition the total IS and JSA claimants – who also claim HB.  At May 2010 there were 1,989,630 such claimants yet at April 2012 this had reduced to 1,788,9650 – a fall of over 200,000.

Figure 1 below shows the trends in both.

Figure 1 – Working and unemployed HB claimants since election

We can see the two lines converging since the last election and this represents the data which shows on average 10,000 or so more working HB claimants each month and also a fall of about 8,000 or so unemployed (IS/JSA) claiming HB tenants.  The rise in working HB claimants has been evident and discussed for a few months now yet nobody has yet commentedd on the sharp decrease in unemployed HB claimants.  The simple graph below at figure 2 which continues these two trends of 10,000 more working HB claimants and 8000 less unemployed HB claimants and the graph is remarkable.

Figure 2 – If last 2 years HB claimant trend continues

The graph is a startling one and of course speculative.  Yet if the trends over the last two years continue it would see working HB claimants would overtake unemployed HB claimants by May 2016.  It wont happen as quickly as that as even an ardent Tory would not expect 8000 unemployed tenants to stop claaiming HB every month.

Or is it speculative?

What the graph does show is the trend and the huge uptake of Housing Benefit by those in work who perhaps havent claimed in the past. As I stated back in December last year £6.7bn per year of HB is known and admitted by the DWP to go unclaimed.  These were from figures published by DWP a year ago and presumably are published yearly.  This years underclaimed HB total will be an interesting figure and as and when released I will comment upon the figures.

Yet let’s look at those figures

If we look back on last years figures for HB take up rates we see a staggering difference between those not in employment who take up HB (93:97%) and those working who do at a mere 40:50%.  This means the numbers of those working and claiming HB could increase by a factor or 2 to 2.5!  In numbers this means the 800,000 or so claiming HB in May 2011 could have been 1.6 to 2 million claims.

Staggering that between 800,000 and 1,200,000 additional working tenants could claim HB but dont!

The table below is taken from the official DWP figures at June 2011

The reality is that if every tenant was assessed for all benefits they were entitled to (which is the rationale behind Universal Credit) then 5% more or 95,850 unemployed tenants or would receive HB yet 222% more working tenants or 981,444 working claimants would receive HB. (May 2011 figures)

The figures would then be 1.883m unemployed claimants of HB and 1.872m working claimants of HB and thats almost parity.

The reality is that as many working tenants as unemployed tenants are eligible for HB! 

Table 4.3.7: Table of caseload take-up of Housing Benefit by   employment status
Year In Employment Not in employment All   Non-Pensioners
Number of Recipients 2008-09 360 2,190 2,540
2009-10 410 2,190 2,600
Range of Entitled Non-Recipients 2008-09 350 : 600 90 : 220 450 : 810
2009-10 420 : 620 70 : 170 490 : 780
Take-Up 2008-09 38 : 51 91 : 96 76 : 85
Ranges 2009-10 40 : 50 93 : 97 77 : 84

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