Almost one in five of all households in the Netherlands received financial help with paying their rent last year, according to government figures quoted by Metro on Tuesday.
In 2013, the total bill for housing benefit for 1.4 million households reached €2.4bn. In 2010, when 1.1 million households received the benefit, the bill was €2.2 bn, Metro says.
The housing ministry says the increase is due to rising unemployment which means more people are eligible for help in paying their rent. Housing activists say the government’s policy of increasing rents above inflation is also having an impact.
People can claim housing benefit if their household income is no more than €30,000 and they have less than €22,000 in savings or other assets. Different rules apply to single parents and pensioners.
Housing benefit is only paid to people living in rent-controlled properties – that is a flat or house with a monthly rent of below €700.