By Danny Brierley
Last updated at 3:36 PM on 08th October 2008
A family living on benefits in a £1.2 million house in west London told today how they felt they had won the lottery.
Mother-of-seven Toorpakai Saindi gets £170,000 a year in benefits and the council pays the property's private landlord £12,500 a month to accommodate the family who fled Afghanistan seven years ago.
The house in Acton has seven bedrooms, two reception rooms, a dining room and two kitchens, as well as an extensive back garden.
Lottery: Single mother Toorpakai Saindi and son Jawad at
their £1.2m home
Mrs Saindi's son, Jawad, 20, told the London Evening Standard: "If someone gave you a lottery ticket, would you leave it? No. You take what you get given.
"It's not that we wanted this big house - my mum is not happy because she has to clean all of it. The first day we moved in here we got lost because it was so big."
It is owned by landlord Ajit Panesar, who is being paid double the normal
market value of the property.
Mr Panesar said: "I can't help it if the law says I should get paid that amount of money."
The Saindis were first housed in a three-bedroom property in Enfield.
Four years later, they moved to a five-bedroom house in Ealing and three
months ago were placed at their current address which they are entitled to have
by law given the size of their family.
Comfort: The spacious West London home which Mrs Saindi occupies with her seven children at the taxpayer's expense
Jawad, who is planning to study at the private Regents Park Business School,
said the family had left Afghanistan because of the civil unrest..
He added: "It was a big choice to go to another country and we came here for the education for the little ones. It was great in Afghanistan, every house over there is enormous - this place would be as big as something we would give chickens but we are just grateful for what we can get."
Jawad, who lives at home with his mother, three sisters and three brothers,
said he could not believe how much the landlord was being paid by the council.
Their father is separated from Mrs Saindi.
Ealing council, who housed the family, blamed the Government, saying it set the rates for the property.
However, Whitehall officials insisted the council could have put the family in a cheaper home.
Mrs Saindi approached Ealing council, which had a legal obligation to find
her a seven-bedroom property, in July after being made homeless.
It is understood the council did not have a suitable house available so turned to the private sector.
But the move has angered neighbours and campaigners who say vast sums of taxpayers' money are being wasted in housing benefit, and claim a more suitable property could have been found.
Mark Walllace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "The
system has gone seriously wrong when one family is costing taxpayers so much.
This family could be helped without the need for such a huge bill."
Mrs Saindi, whose children are aged from eight to 22, said: "I always thought
the housing benefit was a lot, but I'm told this is what it is for homes like
this here. It's a lot of money but the council pay it. This is their problem. I
don't know why they pay so much."
Mr Panesar says he checked the price with the Rent
Service, part of the Department of Work and Pensions, which agreed
the rate was acceptable.
It is believed the figure is so high because the Rent Service grouped Acton with wealthy Westminster during boundary changes in April.
------They had a legal obligation to find them a seven bedroom house and of course, to also pay for it. And the money goes to Ajit Panesar.
------"something we would give chickens"
------Who could make this stuff up? Methinks the sun may be setting on the British Empire.