Story is Front-Page in today's Morning Star newspaper (BTW, The Morning Star headline is incorrect. The article itself explains that the rich are getting the lions' share of the £23 Billion housing benefiit budget - not all of it.)
“Scroungers bank £23bn in welfare”
Rental barons rake in billions from social security amid housing shortage
By Ryan Fletcher
Castle-dwelling aristocrats are raking in massive amounts of housing benefit through feudal property empires targeting the poor, a freedom of information request revealed yesterday.
In circumstance reminiscent of the Middle Ages – earls, barons, viscounts and lords are among a group of fat-cat landlords pocketing billions from cash-strapped tenants.
Adding insult to injury, the landlords are also the real beneficiaries of Britain’s welfare system, as they also receive the housing benefit provided to renters struggling to survive. They included Tory MPs Richard Drax and Richard Benyon, as well as Tory peers Earl Cadogan and Lord Cavendish.
GMB union unearthed the shocking news after an investigation into which landlords were receiving the lion’s share of the £23billion of taxpayers’ cash that goes towards subsidising the rent for 1.65 million private properties in Britain.
According to their study, published yesterday, the top 20 company landlords in each of the 311 out of 380 councils in Britain receive housing benefit direct from councils for tenants renting their properties.
Sixty-nine councils refused to release any information at all.
The list of the companies’ owners and directors includes two viscounts, two dukes, five earls, three marquises, a marquess, four barons, a baroness and a knight.
At least 10 of the landlords own castles and were receiving upwards of £10,000 a year in housing benefit.
The highest was a whopping £626,000 from West Berkshire Council for Conservative MP Richard Benyon, owner of the palatial Englefield House and the nation’s richest MP.
His company also owns 300 houses in Hackney, east London, and thousands of acres of land. Mr Benyon was not available for comment. GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “Shovelling millions of pounds to the likes of castle-owning barons while so many either wait for a home or have to pay exorbitant rents is a public scandal”.
“This research lifts the lid on the mainly secret payments to landlords who are the real winners from Britain’s welfare system. This should bring both shame and action from this government to end this exploitation of public money”.
Mr Kenny proposed a way to end Britain’s shameful history of economic exploitation by the aristocracy and the elite.
He said: “The research shows the rich and powerful sucking up taxpayer’s money through housing benefit. This is made possible by out-of-control rents and a lack of affordable and council homes that so many hard-working people and their families desperately need”.
“This should bring both shame and action from this government to end this exploitation of public money. These billions going into fat cat’s wallets and offshore tax havens would be better spent building houses and homes for real working people”.
Construction union Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy seconded the call. He said: “This demonstrates who the real benefit scroungers are – they are the rich parasites feeding off the misery of people in poor and in adequate housing”
“The solution is to reinvest in council housing so the market for overpriced privately rented property is dramatically reduced”