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Private landlords 'abusing' benefit

Private landlords are " abusing" housing benefit by receiving huge amounts of money, paid in part or in full by taxpayers, according to a new report.

The GMB union said its research showed that the top 20 private landlords in Britain received between half a million pounds and £4.6 million in housing benefit in the 2013/14 financial year.

Of the 4.2 million households in private rented accommodation, the rent in 38% of cases was paid in part or full by taxpayers, said the report.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: "This research lifts the lid on the mainly secret payments to landlords who are the real winners from Britain's welfare system.

"We see taxpayers' cash subsidising buy-to-let empires with £9.2 billion of hard-earned taxpayers' cash paid in to private landlords' bank accounts - much of it ending up in tax havens.

"The abuse of housing benefit by private landlords has gone on for too long. Millionaires take sackloads of cash for exploiting those in housing need or stuck on low pay.

"It's time to close the offshore tax dodgers' charter, cap rents and use the billions being sucked up by property speculator landlords to build affordable homes for people again."

Mr Kenny said it was "incredible" that the Conservatives were planning to extend the "billion-pound rip off" by offering families the chance to buy housing association homes.

Since council housing was opened up to the right to buy in the 1980s, more than 40% of council housing has ended up with buy-to-let landlords, said the GMB.

The union used Freedom of Information requests to local authorities to find out the amount of housing benefit paid to landlords.

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