Today sees the release of the latest HB figures from the DWP. This is the first release since August 2012 as the DWP in their infinite wisdom now publish these quarterly rather than monthly. As such the November 2012 release lets us know the position from 14 June to 9 August 2012 – a time lag of 3 months to 5 months. That is a joke!
1. The claimant count has risen by 19,380 from the last figures in May 2012 to August 2012 to 5,051,120
2. The average HB per person is down 4p per week to £89.42 on average and so the total HB bill now stands at £23.57bn.
- The inherited position at May 2010 was £20.8bn and in June 2010 the coalition announced that the welfare reforms would reduce this by £2bn by 2015 (to £18.8bn)
- Hence currently the HB bill is £4.77bn over target or 25.4% over target
3. The numbers of HB claimants in work has increased by 25,900 from May to August 2012 or seemingly incredulously accounting for 134% of the rise in the claimant count!
- There are now 929,340 HB claimants in work and the inherited figure was 650,550 – a rise of 278,790 working tenants claiming HB in the 28 months since the election or 10,000 new cases per month and an increase of 43%!
- NB – the average claimed by those in employment is £88.15 (see table 7) of the £89.42pw average so this is full HB being claimed and not part HB. If anything reflects Britain’s low pay economy its the fact that 10,000 people per month earn such low wages they qualify for HB
4. Also note that while the overall council tax benefit (CTB) claimant count has fallen by 280 in the May to August 2012 period that there has been an increase of 18,530 new CTB claimants in work. Again that is a scandalous reflection of Britain’s low pay economy.
5. Claimant count regionally. There are some very statistically interesting variations in the percentage increases in the HB claimant count since the HB figures were first released in Nov 2008.
- Nationally the claimant count has increased by 21% as an average.
- Yet in the North the claimant count tends to be much less with some areas having half this level of increase such as Sunderland, Gateshead, Knowsley and the usual areas which always have high indices of deprivation. Perhaps this reflects that unemployment can not go much higher in these areas
- In the South and Midlands the picture is reversed and we see whole regions having well above average claimant increases in all of Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, the entire East of England, much of Hertfordshire, all of Norfolk and Suffolk, Bucks, Hants and Kent, Surrey, Sussex and the South West all having well above average increases in HB claimants.
And then we have London – which of course the housing sector is fascinated with and seemingly ONLY wants to know about – Yes that’s a dig as for many the housing world begins and ends in the capital despite its 50:25:25 split between owned/SRS/PRS picture being wholly out of kilter with the rest of England at 66:17:17.
- Inner London has seen a rise of just 14% over the last 3 years which is 33% below the national average.
- Outer London has increased by 25% in that time and is 19% above the national average
- Or Outer London has experienced a 64% higher rise in HB claimants than Inner London!
Take out Lewisham which has risen by 25% and the Inner London increase averages just 11.5% The City of London is the ONLY area of the country that has seen a fall in HB claimants in the last 3 years.
Only Greenwich (14%) and Richmond (17%) have experienced below national average increases in HB claimants in Outer London and the other 17 boroughs are above the national average increase with Barnet having a 31% increase.
I’m sure the usual suspects will pour over the London HB figures but they do suggest a strong movement from Inner to Outer London that we all forecast when the LHA caps were introduced last year.
Finally on regional differences and as an aside can we see (informal or unofficial?) policies taking place?
- Cambridge has seen a rise of 11% in its HB claimant count over the last 3 years or about half the national average. Yet the 4 other LAs in Cambridgeshire see much higher than average increases: East Cambridgeshire 28%; Fenland 23%; Huntingdonshire 28%; and South Cambridgeshire 25%. – Strange? Coincidental or evidence of a deliberate policy of the City Council?
There are some other strange regional variances. For example Edinburgh. Scotland has a much lower HB claimant increase at 15% than England with 21% (19.66% in Wales) Yet Edinburgh has seen a 44% increase in claimant numbers and three times the national average for Scotland. Could this be related or linked to Edinburgh having 50% more PRS claimants than the rest of Scotland? 30% of its HB claimants in the PRS against a Scottish average of just 20%?
In summary the claimant count continues to rise, the number of working claimants continues to rise, the overall HB bill continues to rise (at £3.27m PER DAY!).
Or if you prefer the HB bill has risen by £37.85p PER SECOND since the election
So if this has taken you 4 minutes and 24 seconds to read the HB bill has increased by £10k in that time