Housing – The false private rented data published by Eric Pickles


Dear Minister,

The English Housing Survey (EHS) is published by CLG, your government department where housing sits and has this week released a document entitled “English Housing Survey – Headline Report 2011-12.”

The EHS is relied upon by housing professionals and politicians alike in terms of accuracy.  MPs use this as the base data on which to make and scrutinise housing policy and social landlords use it to make strategic decisions and other ordinary decisions any business, social or otherwise, takes.

It is surprising then that its data on Housing Benefit claimants is so fundamentally inaccurate and by a margin of more than 60% when it comes to private rented claimants.

The EHS says even in its key findings or executive summary that just 26% of private tenants claim Housing Benefit when the real figure is 41% as I show below using official figures produced by DWP.

On page 19 the EHS under the heading “Housing Benefit” says at 1.20 “In 2011-12 almost two-thirds (64%) of social renters and around a quarter (26%) of private renters received Housing Benefit (HB) to help with the payment of their rent. Table 4 and Figure 4”

Table 4 contains fundamentally errant data and official data released by DWP which disproves the significantly errant figures the EHS uses in Table 4.

Correct Table

    2008/09     2009/10     2010/11      2011/12
EHS/PRS Number





DWP/PRS Number (Nov)















The EHS raw data which above reads at 598k, 797k, 890k and 982k and I have called the ‘EHS/PRS Number’ conflicts significantly with the official DWP data on the number of private rented sector claimants which I term ‘DWP/PRS Number.’

The figures I use are the November figures from 2008 for 2008/9, from November 2009 for 2009/10 et cetera.  These can be found at Table 4 in the official Housing Benefit claimant figures published by DWP and available here.  The figures used in the EHS survey are fundamentally false and create a false picture and especially a false percentage of the numbers of private tenants claiming Housing Benefit.

As we can see at 2011/12 the EHS false data then says the percentage of private tenants claiming HB is 25.5% when in fact the figure is 41.2%.

That is a huge error – 61.6% out no less – and one I call upon the responsible minister, the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to have corrected forthwith.

Yours etc.,


I have used the November figures rather than October one (mid-year) simply as the official DWP figures only go back to November 2008 and so the October 2008 was not available.  This makes no significant difference to the principal point as you can see from the official figures at Table 4 which is headed “Housing Benefit recipients by tenure”


2 thoughts on “Housing – The false private rented data published by Eric Pickles

  1. In the Census, the proportion of households in the private rented sector in receipt of housing benefit in March 2011 was 37 per cent – which seems a bit less than the DWP figures but more than the EHS ones.

    1. The Census is the publics own opinion and many will have misstated their landlord whereas the DWP figures are and have to be the most accurate as each claim has to be scrutinised for the type of landlord.

      The fact the EHS figures are so wide of the mark is a huge surprise and a huge error that needs to be corrected

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