Thursday, 21 April 2011

Family of 12 Ethiopian asylum seekers who have just landed in Britain get £1,460-a-week for vast London home

An Ethiopian family of 12 are being put up in a vast house costing the taxpayer almost £1,500-a-week just two months after arriving in Britain.

The couple and their 10 children are receiving a staggering £1,460-a-week housing benefit from the cash-strapped Tower Hamlets council in London - Britain's poorest borough.

The jobless family - who will also be receiving other handouts such as unemployment and child benefits - only arrived in London from Africa in the past few weeks.

It is yet another example of taxpayers having to pick up the bill for families to stay in vast houses in the capital.

And it comes as it emerged benefits payouts in Tower Hamlets have cost the taxpayer a mammoth £223million in just one year.

The Ethiopians, who are believed to be asylum-seekers, will cost taxpayers £76,000 if they are allowed to stay in the property for 12 months.

They received a weekly sum of £1,462,90 on March 4, according to the council's housing benefits claims department.

Another nine families in the borough received between £590 and £613 in the same week and the last annual figures show 10 families getting between £20,600 and £38,300 for 2008-09.

Tower Hamlets Opposition leader Peter Golds said: 'Paying a yearly rate of £76,000 for one family shows the ludicrous public money being paid to put people into expensive housing.

'It is utterly, utterly ridiculous what sort of properties the council must be housing these families in.'

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions: 'We can't justify having welfare families in wealthy properties in expensive areas which hard-working families can't afford.

'We have to be fair. People on benefits have to make the same choices as the rest of the population.'

Benefits capping began on April 1 for all new claimants, but those already getting more than £20,000 are being given up to nine months to adjust.

The Ethiopian family would have to be among the nation's top earners on £230,000 before tax to afford to spend the same amount of money on rent or a mortgage.

Ray Bolger, mortgage consultant at John Charcol in the City, said: 'A family of 12 bringing in £1,460-a-week housing benefit demonstrates why the government is changing the benefit rules.

'Here is a family with 10 children who normally wouldn't be able to pay that amount - but the state is encouraging people like them to have many more children than they can afford.'

Tower Hamlets council refused to comment. A spokesman said: 'We ensure all claims are processed in line with current guidance.'

The top rate of housing benefit has now been slashed to £400-a-week under tough Coalition plans to rein in the vast costs.

The bill for housing benefit has spiralled from £14billion ten years ago to £21billion and is more than the country spends on policing and universities combined.

George Osborne overhauled the law after it emerged Toorpakai Saiedi, a jobless Afghan immigrant with seven children, was paid £2,875-a-week to live in a huge house in Acton, west London.


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