THE number of people in Newport who claim housing benefit despite working has shot up by nearly 50 per cent since 2010, according to a Newport MP.

Jessica Morden, Labour MP for Newport East, said House of Commons library statistics showed more than 1,900 people in the city are claiming the benefit despite being in employment, up 49 per cent since the current ruling coalition came to power.

But the Department for Work and Pensions said the housing benefit bill had been spiraling out of control in the years up to 2010.

Ms Morden said: “This shocking increase of nearly 50 per cent shows that the cost-of-living crisis is a big problem in Newport and the government is spending an increasing amount to subsidise low pay.

“This increasingly insecure, zero-hour job market, which the government is doing nothing to tackle, is forcing more and more people to rely on housing benefit even when they are working.

“Labour has pledged to ban exploitative zero-hour contracts by making sure employees who work regular hours get a regular contract, banning the requirement for employees to be on call all day without any guarantee of work”.

But a DWP spokesman responded saying: “The housing benefit bill was spiraling out of control in the years up to 2010.

“Action the government has taken is bringing that bill under control and the rise of housing benefit claimants in work has slowed.

“We have also taken action to help hardworking people by increasing the tax-free personal allowance, freezing fuel duty and cutting energy bills.”

According to the figures supplied by Ms Morden’s office, there are now 1,943 people in Newport who, despite being in work, need housing benefit to help pay their rent.

This represents an increase of 49 per cent since 2010.