The number of people in work and claiming housing benefit in Pendle has rocketed by almost 800% in the last four years, new research has revealed.
The figures, commissioned by the Labour Party from the House of Commons library, show the number of claimants in Pendle has soared from 134 in 2010 to 1,175 in November, 2013 – one of the highest increases in the country.
The total number of Pendle claimants rose by just 2% in the same period from 6,877 to 6,989.
News of the increase was condemned by leader of the Labour group on Pendle Council Coun. Mohammed Iqbal.
He said: “It is an absolute scandal that one of the highest increases in the country of hard-working people being forced to claim help with their rent is in Pendle.
“We have a Tory and Lib-Dem council who returned over £50,000 back to the Government of money to help families who are struggling to make ends meet due to the cost of living crisis.
“We have a Tory leader of the council whose has no control on this matter and should apologise to Pendle residents for his failure on this.”
He was joined in his condemnation by Labour’s candidate in Pendle for next year’s General Election, County Coun. Azhar Ali, who added: “An increase of 777% in people who are in work being forced to make claims for housing benefit is a damning indictment of this Tory-led government.
“I am meeting people from across Pendle who are suffering at their hands.
“We have a MP who is not prepared to stand up and fight for hard-working families, but instead supports every cut and every attack against people in Pendle”.
A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The truth is that the housing benefit bill was spiralling out of control in the years up to 2010, doubling to £20 billion in a decade.
“Action this Government has taken is bringing that bill under control - saving the taxpayer over £2 billion a year. “Contrary to these figures, we have seen the number of housing benefit claimants fall over the last quarter.
“The removal of the spare room subsidy alone is saving £1m. a day and means the taxpayer is no longer paying for around 820,000 spare rooms in the social rented sector.
“This Government has also taken action to help hard-working people by increasing the tax-free personal allowance, freezing fuel-duty, cutting energy bills, and introducing free school meals and tax free childcare.”