With a front page lead and a two page article inside today’s edition, the Daily Mirror attacked Newbury MP Richard Benyon for receiving “… £625,000 from his tenants’ benefits”.
This has been proved to be incorrect.
Richard’s family company does receive rents from tenants who are in receipt of housing benefit but the figure given by West Berkshire Council in response to a Freedom of Information Act request was to quote a Council official, “over estimated by a significant amount”.
Richard said, “I am proud that my family’s business provides housing for those on low incomes. Since changes made in 2008, in all but a few cases landlords are not made aware that tenants are in receipt of housing benefit. So when I was told by the Council that the figure related to just 29 properties I knew that the figures stated in the Daily Mirror were wrong. The actual figure is still not available from the Council but I have asked for the correct figure to be made public tomorrow."
He added, “I hope that the Daily Mirror and the GMB Union who are behind this story, can explain what they expect me to do when I discover that a tenant, for whatever personal reason, claims housing benefit. The logic of their argument is that my family business should seek to end the tenancy. That is not something that we would ever do.”
To see the apology from West Berkshire Council click here: http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=29322