Reports 2019/02

Does households that qualify for housing benefits recieve it?

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This report estimates whether the households that qualify for the national housing benefit scheme receive it. The housing benefits scheme is intended to ensure that households with low incomes and high housing costs have an adequate place to live. You are qualified if the income is very low and the housing costs are sufficiently high. Only taxable income is included in the calculation, while tax-free income, e.g. social assistance, is not included. There is an upper limit to the housing costs that are covered. The approved housing cost primarily consists of rent for tenants and interest and instalments on loans in addition to common costs or municipal taxes for owners. Some groups are not eligible for housing benefits. Students are the largest of these groups. Do all the households that are eligible according to these criteria apply for housing assistance?

We make three estimates of eligibility in 2016. Income is the only criteria in the first estimate. This is because we do not have information about housing costs for the entire population. This gives an estimate of eligibility if housing costs not was one the criteria for housing benefits. We estimate housing costs based on information from the SILC-survey in the second estimate. Some of the households that qualify in the first two estimates has very low incomes. This might be because they have stayed in Norway for only part of the year and have income from abroad that are not known. Others may have emigrated without being registered. To take this into account, we make a third estimate, where households with a total income below NOK 50,000 are not included.

163,000 households qualify for housing benefits if only the income requirement is used. This is 6.9 per cent of all households. 143,000, or 6.1 per cent, qualify according to estimate 2, and 123,000 or 5.2 per cent according to estimate 3. 128,000 households received housing benefits in 2016. Almost 60 per cent of the beneficiaries were considered eligible in all three of our estimates. There were however a significant proportion that were not eligible according to any of our estimates and still received housing benefit. Half of the households that were eligible according to estimate 1 had received housing benefit. The proportion of recipients of housing benefits was somewhat higher among those who qualify on estimate 2 and 61 per cent among those who qualified according to estimates 3. These differences arise because income from previous years was used when the benefits were granted and because of differences in household composition. It also shows that there is a significant number of households that would receive housing benefits if they Applied.

Most of these household have very low incomes. Almost half of the households who qualify without receiving housing benefit have wages as their main income source. Most of these are single person households. There is also a relatively high number of eligible recipients among pensioners that live alone. The share of actual and potential recipient is nevertheless highest among households where other kinds of government transfers is the biggest income Component.

A large share of single parents also qualifies for housing benefits. The eligibility rate is highest in the most central municipalities, especially in Oslo. Tenants and households with immigrants also have a larger proportion who receive housing benefits than owners and households without immigrants. Households that are disadvantaged in the housing market also qualifies to a larger extent than other households.

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