The growing housing benefit bill, particularly for those in work, is responsible for much of the increase in welfare costs, rather than out of work benefits for the idle poor, Labour will say on Tuesday.{jcomments on}

Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, will say that the number of working people claiming housing benefit is due to double between 2010/11 and 2018/19. Her figures, which are drawn from the House of Commons library, show an increase in working people claiming housing benefit would cost £12.9 bn – or £488 for every British household between 2010/11 and 2018/19.

The bulk of the increase will come in rent subsidies in the private sector and, in part, reflects the number of people in part-time or low-paid work. Housing benefit makes up about 14% of welfare spending, much of which goes into the hands of private landlords.

Labour knows it is unlikely to turn the welfare debate into anything more than a political draw by the time of the election, and will only get that far if it can convince the public that the welfare bill is not only down to the number of unemployed, but is also related to rising housing costs for those in work.

Full story in the Guardian


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