By Daniel Hunter

Taxpayers already pay rent to private landlords owning more than 1.5m dwellings in the UK, and the latest growth will likely add another 16,000 new claimants, says GMB.

GMB responded to the report from The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) that 40,000 mortgages, worth £5.1bn, were advanced to buy-to-let investors in April, May and June. See notes to editors for report on BBC.

A GMB study of official data shows that of the 462,899 private rented household in the North West some 221,809 or 47.9% are in receipt of housing benefit. The comparable figures for the top ten areas in the North West are Blackpool UA, 91.3%, Knowsley, 79.5%, Sefton, 68.1%, Wyre, 67.8%, Burnley, 66.4%, Wirral, 65.5%, Hyndburn, 63.9%, Barrow-in-Furness, 62.4%, Halton UA, 62.4% and Oldham, 60.6%. Set out in the table below are the figures for all 39 local councils in the region.

The study shows that tenants in 40.4% of the 3.9m private rented homes in England and Wales are in receipt of housing benefit. The figure ranges from 51.5% in the North East to 34.4% in London. The figures for all regions in England and Wales are set out in notes to editors below. See notes to editors for sources.

"This growth in buy to let lending will give rise to even more claims by landlords for housing benefit to pay the rents. Taxpayers already pay rent to private landlords owning more than 221,809 dwellings in this region dwelling and this latest growth will likely add more claimants," Paul McCarthy, GMB Regional Secretary, said.

Housing benefits to meet housing costs for rented accommodation on low incomes is a Thatcher Tory policy. The cost has ballooned to £23 billion per year.

Over the past 30 years a huge slice of the £411billions of taxpayer's funds spent on this Tory policy has been funneled to private landlords as "corporate" welfare.

Labour's traditional and more cost effective policy of building good quality houses to let at affordable rent for those on low incomes was ditched. Much of the stock of social housing that was sold off is now in the hands of "buy to rent" private landlords.

In Wandsworth for example there are 977 private landlords who own more than one of the 6,180 ex council leasehold homes sold under the "right to buy" which are now owned by "buy to let" landlords. One private landlord owns 93, another owns 32, another 15 landlords each own 10 or more and a further 83 landlords each own between 5 and 9 of these dwellings. Many of their tenants are in receipt of housing benefit rather than being charged affordable rents.

Public funds should be switched to investment in social housing and away from this failed expensive Tory policy of corporate welfare and private greed.

Half the cash spent in Britain on housing benefit last year would fund over 80,000 new homes each year across the country.

GMB wants a Labour Party election manifesto insisting that councils build new homes to let at affordable rents all across the country.

Ending corporate welfare will save taxpayer's money and will kick start the local economy. It will provide families with better quality houses with more security of tenure."

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