The number of housing benefit claims made in the North East has almost doubled since 2010, an analysis of Government data has shown.
The Labour Party says low pay and soaring housing costs have led to the sharp rise, and criticised the Tories for allowing the benefits bill to escalate.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves said the cost of housing benefit has risen to £1.3bn since 2010.
While London saw the highest rise in the country at 52%, the North East was a close second with 48%.
Catherine McKinnell, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Newcastle North said:
“This government has been content to build an economy based on low paid jobs. Our region has seen a huge increase in the number of working people forced to claim in work benefits to pay housing costs.
“This isn’t the way to build prosperity for the long-term. Labour has a better plan for the North East and will boost pay by increasing the minimum wage to £8 an hour, and by cutting taxes for working people with a lower 10p starting rate.”
While the region still has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 8%, with 103,000 people out of work, the number out of work fell by 15,000 on the previous quarter, representing a general trend.
But Ms Reeves added the quality and pay of jobs was damaging the economy and regions like the North East.
She said: “Since 2010 David Cameron has failed to tackle low pay and high housing costs leading to a 36% increase in the number of working people claiming housing benefit.
“And another five years of Tory failure to tackle high housing costs and low pay will lead to a 20% increase in the number of working people claiming housing benefit, costing £1.3bn. David Cameron’s failure to tackle housing benefit shows the Tory plan is failing.
“Labour has a better plan to control the housing benefit bill and tackle the root causes of rising spending; low pay and high housing costs. A Labour government will raise the national minimum wage to £8 an hour before 2020, give tax rebates to firms who pay a Living Wage and build at least 200,000 homes a year by 2020.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 10 Apr 2015