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Information package: Housing benefits

Published 27.3.2024

Kela pays housing benefits to many low-income households. The following is a brief overview of the current state and recent developments in housing benefits. At the end, you will find links to more material on this topic from Kela, including statistics and studies on housing benefits.

General housing allowance: Fewer recipient households in 2022

Kela paid a total of 2,231 million euros in housing benefits in 2022. This was 7.4% less in real terms than the previous year. In 2022, the total expenditure on general housing allowances came to 1,565 million euros. 650 million euros was spent on housing allowances for pensioners.

A total of 382,232 households received general housing allowance payments in December 2022: 9,400 less than in the previous year. As a result of COVID-19, the number of recipient households rose by about 10,000 in 2020. The number of recipient households has since decreased, starting in 2021.

As of December 2022, a total of 599,461 persons were living in households that received general housing allowance payments. This was equal to 14% of the population under age 65.

Students make up a third of all general housing allowance recipients

At the end of 2022, student households accounted for 43% and unemployed households for 32% of all general housing allowance recipients. Non-student households totalled 219,705.

Among the households receiving general housing allowance, 72% were single-person households, 21% families with children, 6% couples and 2% other types of household. Ninety-five percent of the households were living in rental housing.

For most, the general housing allowance is a temporary form of assistance

The mean duration of new housing allowance spells beginning in 2013–2016 was about 20 months.

The majority of the recipients are young people, who move off the allowance more quickly than other recipient groups. Households consisting of one adult and and one or several children have longer spells on general housing allowance than persons living alone or households with more than one adult member.

Expenditure on general housing allowance rose in the 2010s following changes in legislation

A legislative amendment of the general housing allowance scheme carried out in 2015 caused an increase in the scheme expenditure. The amendment simplified the system, loosened eligibility requirements and increased the number of recipients.

In 2017, spending on the general housing allowance increased by 16.6% as most students were transferred from the student housing supplement to the general housing allowance scheme in August of that year. The spending continued to increase in 2018, when students were covered by the general housing allowance scheme throughout the year. Most students received higher benefits as a result of the transfer to the general housing allowance scheme. Therefore, the increase in general housing allowance expenditures was greater than the amount previously spent on student housing supplements.

The rise in expenditures levelled off in 2019, when nearly the same amount was spent on general housing allowances as in the preceding year. As a result of COVID-19, the expenditure on general housing allowances and the number of recipients again grew in 2020. In that year, more than 400,000 households received general housing allowance payments.

Kela provides the following housing benefits: general housing allowance, housing allowance for pensioners, student housing supplement and housing assistance for conscripts. Housing costs are also taken into account when reviewing an application for basic social assistance.

Additional information on housing benefits and research on them

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