General housing allowance: Recipient households

Updated: 17 Dec 2018
Next update: 13 Dec 2019

The number of households receiving general housing allowance at the end of December in the statistical reference year analysed by type of household.

The indicator represents the trend in the number of low-income households whose housing costs are subsidised by the government. It also shows the percentage of certain groups, including families with children, as a share of the total recipient population. General housing allowance payments are made primarily to households consisting of persons of working age. Pensioners living alone or together with a spouse or partner are covered by a separate scheme providing housing allowances for pensioners.

The number of recipient households typically rises during economic downturns. A number of legislative amendments have also had an impact on the number of housing allowance recipients. Students are behind much of the fluctuation in the number of recipients, having at certain times been covered by the general housing allowance scheme and at others by a separate housing supplement scheme for students. In August 2017, all students renting their accommodation were transferred into the general housing allowance scheme, which increased the number of recipient households by nearly 120,000. Between 2000 and 2016, only student families with children and students who owned their residence were covered by the general housing allowance scheme. Before 2000, also students who were married or cohabiting or who lived in communal households were eligible for general housing allowance.

   

A total of 376,529 households were in receipt of the general housing allowance in December 2018, 5,000 households less (-1.3%) than the previous year. For the first time since they started increasing in 2009, the number of households receiving general housing allowance now decreased. The exceptionally large increase of the recipient population in 2017 was due to the transfer of students living in rented accommodation to the general housing allowance scheme in August 2017. Were the student recipients excluded from the total, the number of general housing allowance recipients would have decreased slightly already in 2017.

In 2018, the largest decrease in the number of general housing allowance recipients was seen among couples without children and two-parent families with children. The number of couples in receipt of general housing allowance in December 2018 was 5,000 fewer than the previous year. The number of one-person households increased by 1,400 households. The number of single-parent families receiving the benefit decreased by 300 households and the number of other households by 980 compared to the year before.

The number of households in receipt of general housing allowance decreased in 2018 due to a fall in the number of unemployed recipients. There were 11,100 fewer unemployed households in December 2018 than the previous year. The number of student households, however, rose by 4,060 households and the number of employed households went up by 1,810 households.