Ten families in England are sharing an astonishing £1million a year in housing benefits, it emerged last night.
The huge sums being lavished on the families by the taxpayer are allowing them to live in streets normally reserved for millionaires.
Five of the families are receiving the maximum payment of £2,000 per week.
It is the first proof that George Osborne was correct when he claimed some households were receiving sums in excess of £100,000 a year.
Last night, the Chancellor told the Daily Mail: ‘It is precisely this kind of shocking waste of public money under the previous Labour government that led to Britain’s debt problems.
‘We are bringing an end to this by putting a cap on the total amount of benefit that a family can receive so the days of £100,000 housing benefit claims are gone.’
The Coalition triggered a furious reaction last year when it unveiled plans to cut the top rate of housing benefit to £400 a week. Chris Bryant, the Labour justice spokesman, said the cuts would lead to ‘social cleansing’, with 200,000 people forced out of the capital.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, also spoke of a ‘Kosovo-style’ exodus.
Critics even questioned whether Mr Osborne could back his claim that some families were in receipt of six-figure annual sums.
But Freedom of Information replies received by this newspaper show there are at least ten families in London sharing a £1million housing benefit bill between them.
All are being housed in Westminster, Kensington or Chelsea – the wealthiest parts of the country.
Five families are receiving the maximum of £2,000 a week, the equivalent to a working family’s mortgage on a £1.5million house.
It will re-ignite the row over the housing benefit bill, which has spiralled from £14billion ten years ago to £21billion. It is more than the country spends on policing and universities combined.
The identity of the ten families is being kept secret because of privacy rules.
Some previous cases, when the claimaints have been identified, involved even larger sums.
Toorpakai Saiedi, a jobless Afghan immigrant with seven children, had rent of £2,875 per week on a large house in Acton, West London, paid by Ealing Council. The total benefits bill was £170,000 a year.
Outrage at the 2008 case led to Labour introducing the £2,000 per week limit.
In another case, Abdi Nur, along with his wife and their seven children, was given a £2.1million townhouse at the expense of the taxpayer. The 42-year-old, from Somalia, moved into the three-storey property in Notting Hill after he objected to the ‘poor’ area of North-West London they were living in.
David Cameron said his case was ‘an outrage’.
Coalition ministers insist that, while tackling abuse at the top end of the scale, their proposals will not cause the feared ‘social cleansing’.
Figures seen by the Mail show that 96 per cent of 642,200 claimants whose handouts will be reduced will face rent shortfalls of £20 a week or less, and 79 per cent of £10 or less.
The Government expects the vast majority of landlords to cover the shortfall by making a small cut in their rents.