General housing allowance: Recipient households

Updated: 14 Dec 2020
Next update: 14 Dec 2021

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.

   

General housing allowance: Recipient households

A total of 402,559 households were in receipt of the general housing allowance in December 2020, i.e. 22,892 households more (+6.0%) than in the previous year.
The number of households receiving general housing allowance has remained at the same level during the last two years. The most recent significant increase in the number of recipients was seen in 2017, when all students in rental housing were transferred to the general housing allowance scheme.

Of the households in receipt of general housing allowance 69.8% were one-person households. At the end of 2020, there were 280,830 such households, representing an increase of 19,883 persons (+7.6%) from the year before. The number of housing allowance recipients increased also in other types of households. The number of recipient households consisting of a couple without children was 25,247, or 1993 more (+8.6%) than in the previous year. Housing allowance was paid to a total of 88,805 (+0.8) families with children and 7,677 (+3.6 %) other households.

The share of unemployed persons among housing allowance recipients increased in 2020. At the end of the year, the number of unemployed households receiving housing allowance was 146,291, or 12,955 more (+9.7%) than in the previous year. The number of student households in receipt of housing allowance was 162,419, .i.e. 12,311 more (+8.2%) than the year before. The number of employed households receiving housing allowance was 65,890, i.e. 1,852 households less (-2.7%) than in 2019.