10 Dec 2013

South West sees rise in working housing benefit claimants

Home Truths, the latest report by the National Housing Federation, shows that more working people are now asking for help with housing costs due to rising rents and house prices, high levels of unemployment, and low wages. 

In the South West there has been a 108% increase in working people claiming housing benefit since 2009, and with private rents and house prices predicted to rise by 40% and 33% respectively by 2020, it could result in further financial consequences for the taxpayer. 

Ann Cornelius, GreenSquare's Executive Director (Customers and Communities) and a member of the National Housing Federation’s (NHF) South West regional committee, said: “There needs to be a greater focus from the housing industry on regenerating communities and bringing employment back. 

“At GreenSquare we work with our local partners to run two employment and training initiatives ‘What Now!’ and ‘Whatever!’ – enabling us to offer work placements to residents and provide them with the opportunity to learn new skills to gain full time employment.

"We believe that investment in housing is a key driver of economic growth, providing jobs, new homes, and other important amenities both directly and in related sectors of our local economy. By working with local councils and other partners, we can help to revitalise struggling communities and create more job opportunities."

The Home Truths report found that as a country we need 240,000 homes a year just to meet demand but house building numbers are falling. In 2012/13 107,000 new homes were built, 11% less than in 20091.

Ann continued: “In the UK we are already extremely short of housing and with private rents continuing to increase, the gap between supply and demand is widening. We, like many other housing associations, are ready and able to play our part and are committed to delivering more homes, from social and affordable rent, to market rent, to homes for sale to address this shortage.”

Catherine Brabner, South West external affairs manager for the National Housing Federation, added: “We need to address the problems of the housing market now, before another generation is left locked out and reliant on taxpayers to keep the roof over their head.  We need to build more homes in the areas that are growing economically, and at the right prices that people can afford.”

To read the full report, please click here

References

1. DCLG figures adjusted using HCA totals for housing associations.