Prince Charles and Queen 'given £200,000 in benefits'
Buckingham Palace described as 'the biggest council house in Britain' as royal estates cash in
THE estates of Prince Charles and the Queen reportedly received more than £200,000 in housing benefits for their tenants last year.
The Crown Estate was paid £38,539 in housing benefit payments by just one council last year, while the Duchy of Cornwall received at least £163,000, according to the Daily Mirror.
Campaigners have called for regulation of the amount of housing benefit that is paid to landlords, saying the money was helping them to "grow their property empires" rather than helping poor people.
Defend Council Housing, a campaign group, described Buckingham Palace as "the biggest council house in Britain" and called for a cap on housing benefits for landlords.
A spokeswoman for the group said more than £9bn will be paid this year to private landlords, adding that "taxpayers' money is being used to line the pockets of wealthy landlords and property speculators".
But Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has rejected a cap on landlord's housing benefit payments, saying: "I suspect you would end up with fewer landlords actually making properties available."
According to the National Housing Federation, housing benefits might be paid directly to landlords rather than tenants in cases where a tenant does not have a bank account, to reduce the risk of people losing their homes or to offer financial security to landlords, thus maximising their capacity to deliver affordable homes.
The Crown Estate said its properties are let to a range of tenants, including those who may receive housing benefit. "As with any landlord, there are some cases where tenants receive housing benefit and the rent is paid directly by the local authority from the tenant's benefit to the landlord," it said. "All of the Crown Estate's profits are returned to the Treasury each year for the benefit of the nation's public finances."
The Duchy estate, which is worth £847m and exempt from tax, paid Charles £19m last year while the Queen is worth £320m, says the Mirror. Meanwhile, the Crown Estate is said to be worth £8.6bn.