A family of Somali refugees who sparked a row over council housing when they were given a £2million taxpayer-funded mansion have been moved out – into a £1.3million semi around the corner.
Unemployed Saeed Khaliif, his wife Sayida and their brood provoked uproar in 2011 when they moved into one of the most expensive properties ever to be funded by housing benefit.
It emerged today that the family have now vacated the six-bedroom property in West Hampstead, north-west London, due to changes in the welfare system.
But campaigners have been left further outraged after they were given a property worth £3,000-a-month in rent in an up-and-coming area of the capital.
Somali refugee Saeed Khaliif and his wife Sayida have been moved into a second north-London property
It is understood that Mr Khaliif has not worked since he arrived in Britain in 2008. The family were initially housed in a £1,000-a-month property in Coventry, West Midlands.
But they caused anger when they decided they would rather live in London and were handed the keys to the huge house not far from the homes of popstar Boy George and movie director Ridley Scott.
Their case was one of a number which exposed just how much was being paid out for housing benefit and prompted the government to cap benefits at £500 a week for couples with children.
After the limit was imposed, Camden council moved the couple and their reported eight children into the new property in up-and-coming Cricklewood.
Neighbours say the house underwent significant renovation before the family were moved in.
The couple lost their £2million Hampstead home due to the benefit cap but have got this £1.3million semi
Local resident Pedro Rodriguez said: ‘The council have given them a home of luxury and spent thousands renovating it before they moved in.
‘The house is huge and it has been decorated to a very high standard with an open-plan layout, high spec kitchen and slate patio.’
Mr Rodriguez added: ‘They do no open the door to council staff. It’s not right some people are given so much for free when others are struggling.’
The council own the property and is said to keep rents within the benefit cap, while similar properties in nearby streets command amounts of up to £3,000-a-month.
Dia Chakravarty, Political Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘The welfare system is meant to be a safety net for those who are struggling, not a comfort blanket.
‘Hard-pressed families struggling with their bills will be furious at such an extortionate amount being spent on housing a single family in one of the most expensive areas in London.’
The couple were previously given this six-bed mansion, which in 2011 was one of the most expensive properties ever to be funded by housing benefit
It is understood the couple are entitled to such a large property because two of their children have disabilities.
Camden council leader Sarah Hayward said: ‘Camden Council uses council housing to support families who can demonstrate they need help finding a genuinely affordable home.
‘For many of our tenants they need help because they have a specific high level support need like illness or disability.
‘Often the support needs of tenants are ignored in debates about social housing.
‘In addition, London’s economy depends on having access to a broad base of labour from the highly skilled and specialist to more generally lower qualified and lower paid.
‘The provision of affordable housing is essential to meeting this Labour demand in addition to our responsibilities supporting vulnerable families facing illness and disability.’
But Douglas Carswell, the Ukip MP for Clacton, accused the Government of being ‘mad’ in allowing Mr Khaliif to be funded so heavily.
‘This Somalian individual and his family is getting all this money,’ he said. ‘There are constituents of mine who have paid into the system for all their lives and also have children with special needs and they cannot get a penny in support.’
At the house today, no one from the family was prepared to comment.
Pictured: Their previous property. Neighbours of their new home say it has also been expensively renovated