Single mother on benefits is moved into £1m five-bedroomed house in UK

18:30, 10 November 2008
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Funded by the taxpayer

A Nigerian mother-of-five is living in a five bedroom, detached house with an annual rent of £25,000 paid for by taxpayers, Daily Mail reported.

The house, worth as much as £1 million at the height of the property boom, is situated in a smart cul-de-sac close to shops in Edgware village, north London.

The tenant, Omowunmi Odia, said today she was pleased to be living there  -  the family`s previous home was a cramped flat

`I was living in a two-bedroom apartment with my five children and only moved in here two weeks ago,` said Mrs Odia, who is in her thirties.

`They didn`t have any council houses big enough for me so I found this one. I like it; the children like it,` she added.

Mrs Odia, who drives a six-year-old family car, was forced out of her previous home after a court order was obtained against her.

Threatened with homelessness, she was rehoused by Barnet council in her new house, bought by its owners in 2005 for £650,000.

Government rules entitle Mrs Odia, who has been in the UK for 10 years, to live in a five-bedroom house.

She lives off benefits and has not been in contact with her husband, who remains in Nigeria, for at least three years.

Mrs Odia`s new home also has two large sitting rooms, a conservatory which backs on to a garden, and a double garage. It is, however, unfurnished and most of the rooms are empty bar a leather sofa and armchairs in one of the sitting rooms.

Mrs Odia said the council had tried to rehouse her in Enfield, north London, but she had held out for Edgware, close to her children`s schools. One of the bedrooms, she said, was "no bigger than a shoebox".

More than £4 billion of taxpayers` money is being spent on housing benefit across London  -  an increase of more than 40 per cent in five years.

The new figures will fuel growing concern that private landlords are profiting from a system threatening to spiral out of control.

In the 12 months to April this year, £4.15 billion was spent by the Government on housing benefit in London, compared with £2.94 billion in 2003.

An Evening Standard investigation shows how expensive privately-owned properties in London are now being rented out to some of the poorest families at huge cost to taxpayers.

The Government has admitted its concern that these homes are way beyond the reach of typical "hard-working" families.

Last month the Standard revealed how a mother and her children were living in a £1.5 million mews house in Kensington, that costs taxpayers almost £60,000 a year, while an Afghan immigrant and her children were living in a seven-bedroom house in Ealing, west London, at a cost of about £150,000 a year.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said: `I have asked my officials to carefully examine these issues as part of our ongoing review of housing benefit and expect them to report to me as a matter of urgency.

`It is crucial that the housing benefit system is fair  -  it does need to support people on low incomes, but also has to be fair to the taxpayer.`

The new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show £4.15 billion spent on housing benefit across London`s 32 boroughs with a further £670 million paid in council tax in the 12 months ending last April.

More than £250 million in housing benefit was paid out to Newham residents alone.

The housing benefit bill now exceeds £100 million in 21 out of 32 boroughs. On top of the £4.15 billion benefits bill, the DWP also pays the council tax for families on benefit, a bill which has also risen in the past five years from £435 million to £670 million in London.

`Too little is being done to reduce the bill by helping people become self-reliant,` said Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers` Alliance.

`The principle of housing benefit should be that it is a safety net designed to help you get back on your feet, not an automatic life-long provision, no questions asked.`

Daily Mail

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