Housing benefit

Date 1 September 2017
Date updated 8 October 2017

Housing benefit by tenure & work status

What does this chart show?

This graph shows the number of working-age housing benefits claimants by whether they are in the social or private rented sectors and by whether they are in work or not. Housing benefit is a means-tested benefit which helps those living in rented homes (both in the social and private sector) meet their housing costs. Those claiming an out-of-work benefit are automatically entitled but it can also be claimed by those in work on a low income and by pensioners.*

In 2017 there were 590,000 working-age families claiming housing benefits. The number of families claiming housing benefits has been falling since 2013, when it peaked at 680,000. The social rented sector accounted for 380,000 (or 65%) of claimants and the private sector for 210,000 (or 35%).

The area in which there has been a significant change is the number of housing benefit claimants who are in work. The number of workless housing benefit claimants was highest in 2011 at 470,000 but has fallen every year since to reach 320,000 in 2017. This is in contrast to the number of claimants who were in work, which increased every year until 2016. There was a slight fall in 2017 to 270,000, however, because the overall number of claimants fell, the proportion of claimants who were in work in 2017 was the highest yet at 46%. This figure has been increasing steadily since 2011 when it was 28%.

* Those aged 65 and above are not included in the graph.