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Bricks or benefits? Rebalancing housing investment

By: Kate Webb
Published: May 2012

Bricks of Benefits?

Housing benefit is poised for abolition after 30 years as a national welfare benefit. Government support for housing costs will instead be provided via Universal Credit, as part of the biggest shake-up of the welfare state for 60 years. Yet the central question of whether a cash benefit paid to individuals is the best way to support low and middle income households to house themselves has not been answered.

Successive governments have moved to curb the rising cost of housing benefit by adjusting benefit entitlement and imposing additional restrictions on the regime, but these efforts have focused on treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

The report sets out the argument for a preventative approach; investing in supply to bring down the housing benefit bill by reducing the cost of housing and lifting households out of the benefit trap.