Family on �1,460 weekly housing benefit are moved out of East End

The family at the centre of the controversy over claiming �1,460-a-week housing benefit in East London are now believed to have been moved out by the local authority.

The father arrived as a political refugee from Ethiopia who was granted asylum, it is understood.

His family then arrived unexpectedly and Tower Hamlets Council was obliged to give them accommodation, the East London Advertiser has learned.

The family of 12—a couple with 10 children—are being supported by social services.

They have since been found accommodation in Redbridge, further out in the suburbs, according to one Town Hall source.

The controversy has now drawn comment from leading Government figures at the Department of Work & Pensions since it broke on the Advertiser website last night.

A statement to the paper tonight says: “This case demonstrates exactly why we are reforming Housing Benefit and ending the absurdity of people living in the sort of housing that an average working family could never afford.

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“On April 1 we introduced caps to Local Housing Allowance and reduced the maximum rate at which it could be paid. The sooner we can return fairness to a system that is out of control the better.”

Families already getting above �20,000 are being given up to nine months to adjust to the new reality.

Welfare payments in Tower Hamlets alone have reached �223 million in one year in Britain’s poorest borough—even before the family claiming �1,460 a week housing benefit, along with another nine families listed last month getting around �600 each.

“This shows the ludicrous public money being paid to put people into expensive housing,” said Tower Hamlets Opposition leader Peter Golds. “It is utterly, utterly ridiculous what sort of properties the council must be housing these families in.”

The last annual figures available show 10 families getting between �20,600 and �38,300 for the year 2008-09.

The year before was even higher, with 10 families claiming between �30,500 and �58,000.

The housing benefit bill for both private and social rented properties hit �159m in 2008-09, plus another �34m on emergency homeless shelter and �30m on council tax allowances.

A Town Hall statement tonight confirmed:

“We are not able to comment on details of individual cases with regards to benefit claimants, but work to ensure all claims are processed in line with the current guidelines from the Government.

“The eligibility criteria for housing benefit is set by the Department of Work & Pensions and not the council.

“Any money spent on providing financial support cannot be allocated to other services or facilities that the council provides.”

Details of the family on �1,460 weekly housing benefit emerged following a heated debate in which the Labour majority on Tower Hamlets council voted to condemn the Government capping benefits as “a deliberate attempt at social engineering.”

The �20,000 cap would increase overcrowding and lead to a move to “get working class families out of areas like the East End,” claimed Cllr Mark Francis.

He described the capping as “the Government’s pernicious policy that’s putting families on the rack.”

But the remark brought anger from Tory Opposition councillors who blamed Labour for a ‘dependency culture’ costing the country billions.

Their deputy group leader Tim Archer said: “Capping benefits at �20,000 for a family is more than enough—they’d have to earn �60,000 just to pay that in rent on the open market.”

The Government spent �200 billion on social security and tax credits in the last 12 months. Nearly 13 per cent of Britain’s working-age population are on benefits, with two million children living in workless households.

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