United Kingdom

Housing benefit

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Non-take-up of housing benefit has increased sharply over the last decade, among both pensioners and those of working-age.  For pensioners, the government’s mid-point estimate is that 17% of eligible households did not claim the benefit in 2008/09 compared to 8% in 1998/99.  For working-age households, the government’s mid-point estimate is that 20% of eligible households did not claim the benefit in 2008/09 compared to 5% in 1998/99.
  • Non-take-up is lowest among local authority renters.
  • One in five households in rented accommodation have a low income but are not in receipt of housing benefit (and thus have to pay full rent).
  • There was a major deterioration in the administration of housing benefit in 1999/00 and 2000/01, during which time the proportion of new claims not dealt with within 14 days (from the receipt of all the required information) rose from 23% to 38%.  This deterioration in performance followed the introduction of the ‘verification framework’ designed to reduce levels of fraudulent claims.  In recent years, performance has improved substantially and, by 2007/08, the proportion of new claims not dealt with within 14 days had fallen to 11%.  This is actually well below the 21% before the deterioration and only slightly above the government target of 10%.

Why this indicator was originally chosen

Without Housing Benefit, renting households on low incomes would find it difficult to afford to pay their rent.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the estimated proportion of households entitled to housing benefit who are not taking up their entitlement, with the data shown separately for pensioner and non-pensioner households.

The data source for the first graph is the Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up series published by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).  The data relates to Great Britain.

Note that the figures shown are the mid-points of quite wide range estimates, so the figures for any particular year are subject to considerable uncertainty.  So, for example, the proportion of non-take-up among pensioner households in 2004/05 is shown in the first graph as 16% but could be as low as 13% or as high as 19%.

The second graph shows the proportion of households in rented accommodation is each of four groups according to whether or nor they are in receipt of housing benefit and whether or not their household income is below the 60% of median income ‘poverty line’.

The data source for second graph is Households Below Average Income, based on the Family Resources Survey.  The data relates to the United Kingdom.  Income is disposable household income after deducting housing costs and the low-income threshold is the same as that used elsewhere, namely 60% of contemporary median household income.  All the data is equivalised (adjusted) to account for differences in household size and composition.  The self-employed are included in the statistics.

The third graph shows the proportion of new claims for housing benefit which are not processed within 14 days of receipt of the necessary information.  This has traditionally been one of the main government indicators for monitoring the performance of housing benefit administration.  Note that the latest data is for 2007/08 and that the data has not been collected since then.  Also note that the data from 2000/01 is actually for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit combined as that is how the data was made available, whilst that for all earlier years is for Housing Benefit only.

The data source for the third graph is DWP’s Housing Benefit Operational Database and the data relates to Great Britain.  Note that, as from 2007/08, the data is no longer collected.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  The figures are estimates only, based on the modelling of data from surveys such as the Family Resources Survey.

Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

None directly relevant.

The numbers

Graph 1

Year Pensioners Non-pensioners All
1997/98 9% 4% 6%
1998/99 8% 5% 6%
1999/00 11% 6% 8%
2000/01 10% 9% 9%
2001/02 14% 11% 12%
2002/03 13% 13% 13%
2003/04 15% 11% 13%
2004/0516% 11% 13%
2005/0614% 15% 14%
2006/0715% 17% 16%
2007/0816% 17% 17%
2008/0917% 20% 19%

Graph 2

In low income and not in receipt of Housing Benefit 19%
In low income and in receipt of Housing Benefit 22%
Not in low income but in receipt of Housing Benefit 20%
Not in low income and not in receipt of Housing Benefit 39%

Graph 3

1995/96 18%
1996/97 22%
1997/98 21%
1998/99 23%
1999/00 33%
2000/01 38%
2001/02 35%
2002/03 33%
2003/04 29%
2004/05 22%