Wednesday, 9 November 2011


I always look forward to the ‘Evening Standard’ on a Wednesday, so that I may wash myself in wistful desire as I wander through the ‘Homes & Property’ section, choosing which glorious abode will be mine; casually deciding that some are certainly not worthy of said £3.25 million price tag, whilst another, at say a mere £600,000, is an absolute bargain.

It is undoubtedly a cruel spell I put myself under, and a rather pointless one, but we all love our little fantasy sojourns.

Tonight, before I even reached those hallowed pages, I sat forlorn on the tube home as I reached page 8…

Britain's welfare system is paying 150 families in London £50,000 a year each in housing benefit, figures reveal today… The annual bill being £7.5 million, or more than £4,000 a month on average.

The subsequent quote from Welfare reform minister Lord Freud: “It’s completely unfair that the taxpayer is funding housing benefit payments of £50,000 a year to some claimants” – stood nothing but as right and an understatement.

Let me be absolutely clear.

I’ve no problem with having a Welfare System, of seeing those less fortunate being aided.

Nor do I have a problem with this country aiding asylum seekers.

But to read of the Somali refugees who were moved to a three-storey home in Kensington (pictured, the kind of property we all dream of) at a cost of £2,000 a week… after they had complained that they did not like their £900-a-week home in Kensal Green… saw my blood begin to boil.

Perhaps their journey is a sorrowful tale. But then I began thinking of other stories I’ve read recently. Like the convicted rapist who has a £250 a week rent paid and is taking this country to task through the ‘European Court of Human Rights’ because, he says, his added £70 a week food vouchers “limit his choice as to where he can shop”. Or how the jailed hate preacher Abu Hamza's home has received a £40,000 makeover... paid by taxpayers… I despaired.

And there many more insulting tales such as these.

A couple of years back, I hit particularly hard times and thought I might become homeless. When I approached Westminster Council, I was apologetically told that as a British Tax-Payer I was right at the bottom of the list, and rather sheepishly given the only aid they could offer – a pamphlet for ‘Shelter’.

At 40 years old, I know I’m not alone in having paid some £50,000 in tax (plus National Insurance). And I get by whilst earning below what is called the ‘UK Average Salary’. Just.

But all of this is wrong. So wrong.

And oh, do I feel cheated and maligned.