The huge chunk of public money allocated by the Government to housing has not gone on building new homes – but on paying out housing benefit to claimants, including those living in private rented accommodation.
The revelation comes from the National Audit Office and questions whether housing market analysts are asking the right questions.
Out of £28bn spent by the Government on housing in England in the last financial year, £20.9bn was spent on housing benefits, paid to 4,1m applicans.
The National Audit Office also said that house building has not kept pace with need – and that this will continue.
It said that projections suggest there will be at least 227,000 new households formed each year in England between 2011 and 2020.
However, the National Audit Office warns that this is “substantially higher” than the annual average of 166,000 extra homes delivered in England over the last ten years.
It says delivery of the Government’s 1m new homes housing target by 2020 will need at least 174,000 ‘net additions’ each year.
However, while many analysts have concentrated on number crunching new builds, the National Audit Office drew most attention to the sheer scale of housing benefit.
Other figures released by the National Audit Office include:
Total number of homes in England in 2014
Estimated total public sector spending on housing in 2015-16
The number of new homes that the Government aims to deliver in 2015-20
Estimated total value of the housing stock in England in 2015
Estimated increase in the value of the housing stock in England since 2010
Proportion of homes in England that are owner-occupied
Proportion of homes in England that are privately rented
Proportion of homes in England that are socially rented
Proportion of homes in England that were “non-decent” in 2014, down from 35% in 2006
Number of homeless households in England in temporary accommodation at 31 March 2016
Spend in England on housing benefit in 2015-16