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Taxpayers pay £1,600-a-week for family of ex-asylum seekers to live in luxury five-storey home

 
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11/30/2009 12:52 PM
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Taxpayers pay £1,600-a-week for family of ex-asylum seekers to live in luxury five-storey home
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Taxpayers pay £1,600-a-week for family of ex-asylum seekers to live in luxury five-storey home


[link to www.dailymail.co.uk]


A Somali family are living in a luxury £1.8million five- storey house in central London funded by the taxpayer.

Nasra Warsame, 40, has lived with seven of her children and her elderly mother in the six-bedroom house since October.

Westminster council pays the £1,600-a-week rent for the former asylum seeker.

The fully-furnished house, within walking distance of the West End, has three sitting rooms and four bathrooms.

The main lounge has two leather sofas, a flat-screen television and a glass coffee table. Annual rent for the house would cost £83,200.

Mrs Warsame's home is part of an impressive 1960s development of modern apartments and houses.

There is a large glass sculpture situated in the middle of a courtyard outside the family's front door.

It is understood the rent being paid by the council is twice the going rate for a property in the area. It is unclear why this is the case.

Meanwhile, Mrs Warsame's husband Bashir Aden, 50, and another of their children are living in a separate property in nearby Camden.

He said they live separately because the family is too big to fit under one roof. His two-bedroom flat is also paid for by housing benefit.

Outside the family's main house yesterday Mr Aden, a butcher, said: 'I've already had too much trouble with this house.

'Yes, it is true I live in Camden, and yes, my wife lives here, but she has a lot of problems with this at the moment.'

Mrs Warsame and her seven children, aged from two to 16, first lived in a house in Maida Vale, North-West London, but were moved because it was thought to be too small by council officials.

The weekly rent, which was also covered by housing benefit, is understood to have been £800. Mr Aden said: 'That place was overcrowded. They moved her here for the children.'

An estate agent showed the family the spacious five-floor property near Edgware Road Underground station.

The new house we moved into in October is a nice house and it is in a nice area,' Mrs Warsame said. 'It is quiet and it is convenient and we do not want to leave.

'It is better than the house we were living in in Maida Vale which was quite small. We were getting complaints from neighbours that the children were being too noisy.'

Mrs Warsame and her husband fled unrest in Somalia in 1991 and claimed asylum in Britain.

They have since been granted citizenship and all of their children were born here. But the family could be evicted from their house, as it is claimed it has been rented out illegally.

Philippa Roe, of Westminster council, said: 'It's important to note that the amount of housing benefit payable for tenants is determined by government policy and not local councils. This rate is calculated and updated on a yearly basis according to the value of the local rental market. We have absolutely no discretion in this area.

'Property rents in Westminster are among the highest in the country so it is perhaps unsurprising that a family claiming housing benefit for a property of this size would need to submit a claim for this amount.

'We would, however, like to see the entire housing benefit system changed to enable councils to have more control and essentially the ability to limit the amount of money claimed where appropriate.'

Last year it was revealed Afghan single mother Toorpakai Saiedi and her seven children were given a £1.2million property complete with 100ft garden by Ealing council in West London.

Mrs Saiedi, 35, received £170,000 a year in benefits. Some £150,000 of that is paid to a private landlord for the seven-bedroom house.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: 'We capped the Local Housing Allowance in April because it was unacceptable that a small number of people received exceptionally high levels of Housing Benefit.

'We want the system to be fair, both to families in need and the taxpayer.'

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