18 January 2012 | By Alex Wellman, Inside Housing

The number of housing benefits claimants in Great Britain has risen by more than 130,000 to 4.9 million.

Statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions show that as of October 2011 there were 4.92 million people receiving housing benefit – 132,430 more than the same time the previous year.

Of the total, 68 per cent were social tenants and three-quarters were aged under-65 with the average weekly amount of £87.03 being paid.

Single people made up the largest category of claimants with 3.89 million of them receiving housing benefits – almost two thirds of who were female.

According to the figures, 79 per cent of tenants in the private sector received local housing allowance.

David Salusbury, chairman, National Landlords Association, said:

Although these latest statistics do not tell us anything about whether the government’s reform package for housing benefits is a success, they do show the significant danger of getting housing benefit reform wrong.

With over 1.24 million people now receiving local housing allowance it is crucial that the government supports landlords providing accommodation for this vulnerable group of people.

The focus must be on encouraging the supply of rental accommodation, as well as reducing benefit expenditure.”