Under the last two Conservative Governments, unemployment reached 2.5 million. There was a global financial crisis during the period of the last Labour Government, and as a result, unemployment rose, but it has risen even further under this Government, from 1.5 million, when Labour left office, to 1.7 million in February 2012. The OBR’s Budget forecast last week showed a £600 million increase in the forecast for social security spending in just one year, and since 2010, the Government have spent £25 billion more on social security than they set out to spend.
Under the Government, the number of people paid less than the living wage has soared by 44%, while house building has fallen to its lowest levels since the 1920s. It is for those reasons that housing benefit spending—the second-largest area of DWP spending, after pensions—was more than £2 billion higher in 2014-15 than in 2009-10. It was due largely to the rocketing numbers of working people not paid enough to cover their rent. In this Parliament, the Secretary of State has spent £1.8 billion more than he planned on housing benefit for working people and, on current Government forecasts, the cost of working people’s rising reliance on housing benefit to pay their rent will reach £14 billion by the end of the decade, if left unchecked—£488 for every household in the country.