Afghan mother of seven to spend Christmas in her £1.2m house... and taxpayers will foot the £12,500-a-month bill
By Mark Blunden and Ruth Bloomfield
Last updated at 3:46 PM on 23rd December 2008
A family who were moved into a £1.2million home at taxpayers' expense are still there for Christmas despite the Government promising a crackdown on housing benefits.
Mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saiedi moved into the seven-bedroom detached property in July and receives £170,000 a year in benefits, which includes £12,500 a month for her rent.
Her council has been unable to find suitable council housing, forcing it to pay a private landlord to re-house the family.
Still in residence: Single mother Toorpakai Saiedi and son Jawad at their £1.2m home
Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell promised to stamp out the practice when the case was exposed but both the council and the family say they have heard nothing.
Mrs Saiedi's son, Jawad, 20, said: 'They haven't said anything about moving out and although we're really happy here we won't resist when they ask us as we know we're very lucky.
'It's a great place but it's not our fault the council has housed us here. Of course every day we still feel like we've won the lottery jackpot - who wouldn't because it's a really good area?
'We will see what happens when our case is reviewed and if we are told to move then that's how it is.'
Mrs Saiedi moved to London seven years ago after she fled her native Afghanistan during civil unrest.
She was made homeless from a five-bedroom house in Ealing, West London, this year and pleaded with the council for a suitable home but there was nothing available.
As well as seven bedrooms, the house they have since moved into in nearby Acton has two reception rooms, a dining room, two kitchens and an extensive back garden.
Jawad, a student who lives in the house with his mother, three sisters and three brothers, thinks the council 'must be mad' to pay such a high rent for them.
TOORPAKAI SAINDI'S ACTON HOME, FUNDED BY EALING COUNCIL
Comfort: The West London home which Mrs Saiedi and her seven children occupy at the taxpayer's expense
The landlord, Ajit Panesar, is being paid double the normal market value of the property because of another government loophole.
Despite the outcry, the council says its hands are tied until next July when the case comes up for review.
But Mr Purnell has told MPs that a cap will be imposed on the rent for a house of five bedrooms or more by April. An Ealing council spokeswoman said: 'We welcome the Government's intention to change the law to close the loophole and as soon as the law has been changed we will take action.'
Three Ealing council offers were sacked for placing the family in the house although they claim they were made scapegoats.
Mark Wallace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'The system has gone seriously wrong when one family is costing taxpayers so much. The family could be helped without such a large bill.'
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