Afghan Family Still Living in £1.2million Home

"We're here to stay" says business studies student

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Acton was the centre of a media storm last year when it was found that an Afghan family was living in a £1.2million home paid for by the taxpayer.
Now, it has emerged that more than a year after a minister pledged to throw them out, they are still there.

According to reports, Toorpakai Saiedi, 36, and her seven children receive £170,000 a year in benefits - £150,000 of which goes on renting the property.

When details of the arrangement emerged, then Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell ordered a complete overhaul of the system.

But the family is still living in the seven-bedroom home in Acton, West London. Yesterday Mrs Saiedi's son Jawad left the property in an almost-new Mini Cooper.

The 21-year-old business studies student told the Daily Mail: 'No one is going to throw us out of this house. We're here to stay.'

The property was bought in March 2008 for £1.2million by Ajit Panesar. Neither he nor the family, who have lived in Britain for eight years in properties paid for by the authorities, did anything illegal.

Instead they benefited from a series of loopholes in Whitehall guidelines introduced in April 2008 for housing allowances.

Under the Local Housing Allowance Scheme, landlords know the maximum they can charge the taxpayer.

When details of the case became public in October last year, Mr Purnell demanded a full report from Ealing council and vowed to close the loopholes.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it has introduced new guidelines on council homes that cap rent at the value of a five-bedroom house.

This means landlords renting houses with six or more bedroomsto council tenants will receive the average rent of a five-bedroom home in the area.

A DWP spokesman said: 'We will launch our consultation on further reforms to housing benefit shortly.

'However, we won't kick families out of their homes and they have up to six months from their review date to find more appropriate accommodation.

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

December 4, 2009