Nick Sommerland for the Daily Mirror: “A Tory MP worth £110million is raking in £625,000 a year from his hard-up tenants’ housing benefit – despite blasting the “something for nothing” welfare state.
Richard Benyon – Britain’s richest MP – runs his vast property empire from a mansion on his sprawling country pile.
But last night he was accused of cashing in off the back of the very handouts his party pledged to slash – as it emerged a string of other Tories were doing the same.
Just last month the MP, 53, said: “The average household spends £3,000 per year on the welfare state. This figure had been rising inexorably and unaffordably.”
Mr Benyon has also attacked the Labour Party over payments and said: “Labour want benefits to go up more than the earnings of people in work. It isn’t fair and we will not let them bring back their something for nothing culture.” He is a director of the Englefield Estate Trust Corporation Limited, which owns most of the land and property linked to his family.
It got £625,964 in housing benefit from West Berkshire council last year, more than any other private landlord in the area.
Eileen Short, of Defend Council Housing, fumed: “How dare Richard Benyon lecture us about ‘something for nothing’ when he is living off the poorest and milking taxpayers all the way to the bank?
“It’s not tenants who gain from housing benefit, but some of the richest people in Britain. They get richer at our expense – and blame us while they’re at it.”
Mr Benyon is likely to pull in thousands of pounds more from properties in other areas, too, as his firm owns 20,000 acres of land from Hampshire to Scotland and 300 houses in Hackney, East London.
His office refused to comment on the figures or confirm whether Englefield got more housing benefit from other councils. Buy-to-let landlords and property tycoons like him will bank a total of £9.2billion in housing benefit this year.
It costs more than £23 a week, or 29% more in housing benefit, for a council to house a tenant with a private landlord than with a housing association or social not-for-profit landlord, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. Mrs Short added: “It’s time we stopped greedy private landlords living off housing benefit. Instead of subsidising them, we ought to cut rents not benefits, and invest in housing that’s really affordable. Let’s get these people off our backs.”
Our investigation, with the GMB union, comes after it was revealed yesterday that UKIP’s housing spokesman Andrew Charalambous was making a fortune off migrant tenants on welfare – despite leader Nigel Farage calling for a ban on foreigners claiming the cash.
The millionaire pocketed £745,351 in housing benefit from occupants, who he admitted included immigrants.
Our probe also uncovered a number of other Tories and donors who also bagged cash through housing benefit tenants last year. Baron Iliffe’s firm got £195,072 from West Berkshire council. His estate is worth an estimated £245million. He and his wife have donated £50,000 to the Tories.
Peer Lord Cavendish benefitted from £106,938 in housing welfare last year from Barrow council in Cumbria through his shareholding in Holker Estates.
The Earl of Cadogan, who has given £23,000 to the Tories, has received £116,400 in benefits from Kensington and Chelsea. And MP Richard Drax’s 7,000-acre Morden Estate got £13,830 from Purbeck council, South Dorset, last year. A Morden spokesman said: “We don’t comment on these things.”
On top of Mr Benyon’s haul from tenants, his family farms have also received more than £2million in EU subsidies since 2000.
Once a year the multi-millionaire – whose great great grandad was PM Lord Salisbury – hands out food to poor families as part of a 16th century tradition. He recently came under fire for scrapping plans to dredge the Somerset Levels. He was also criticised for claiming poor families wasted too much food.
Our investigation is based on Freedom of Information Act requests made by the GMB union, which has many members who rely on social housing. There are 1.8 million households on the waiting list for council homes. Despite Government pledges to tackle the welfare bill, the annual cost hit £24billion this year.
The DWP said: “Housing benefit provides a meaningful safety net for people, whether they live in social housing or in private rental properties, and it’s sensible that both of these options are available to people.”
- See which private landlords are making the most in housing benefits from your council:
Landlords paid £1.5m to house vagrants in rat infested hellhole
The owners of a notorious hostel where homeless men live in squalor are bagging more than £1.5million a year
in housing benefit.
Ron Barr, 69, and Kenneth Gray, 80, make a fortune renting out the rat-infested Bellgrove Hotel’s tiny rooms with barred windows to residents who use shared toilets and shower rooms.
The hovel is awash with drugs and alcohol, with people often left to pass out in pools of their own urine.
Brothers-in-law Barr and Gray, who bought the Glasgow “hotel” for £65,000 in 1988 through firm Careside Hotels Ltd, pocket cash through more than 140 clients whose rooms are paid for with up to £199.25 a week of public money.
The men – who live in luxury – raked in £1.56million in housing benefit in 2012-13, £1.49million in 2011-12, and £1.45million in 2010-11.
Glasgow MSP John Mason last night said the Bellgrove was like a “Russian prison”.
He said: “I have been in and the facilities are seriously out of date. It is like some kind of Russian prison camp – grey and horrible.” Unlike care homes, which are monitored by official bodies, the Bellgrove is technically a private hotel. Mr Mason said the site needed to be regulated and urged the Care Commission to look at it.
The amount handed to the Bellgrove’s owners, to provide a room and basic meals, has tripled from £500,000 in 2000, despite it being described even then as the “worst in Scotland”.
But business is still booming at the spot in the city’s East End. On an undercover operation, the Daily Record discovered hundreds of residents living in cell-like rooms.
Drugs were taken openly and residents left to guzzle cider all day before passing out in stinking corridors. Pools of vomit were also left on the floor.
Glasgow city council stopped referring homeless people there in 2010 after deciding it made people’s drink and drug problems worse. A spokesman said: “Accommodating individuals in large scale hostels makes it much harder to address the issues that led to their homelessness in the first place.”
A senior source at the council said: “There’s a very unhealthy drugs and alcohol scene. You could go into that place an alcoholic and come out a drug addict and alcoholic.”” (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/richest-mp-britain-slams-welfare-3178089#.UwuYf67R4fY.twitter)
These kind of state of affairs sums up why Labour need to do literally nothing to win a majority at the next election. David Cameron is universally loathed throughout Britain. See this wonderful Channel 4 news video. That lass does South Shields proud –
I have also just received the following from Social Investigations which makes for revealing reading. In the extraordinarily unlikely event the coalition scrape to form another incompetent Government then the NHS is truly finished: (http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/non-executive-director-nadhim-zahawis.html)