A migrant family of ten who have spurned three offers of a bigger council house must accept a fourth property or be made homeless.
Cameroon-born Arnold and Jeanne Mballe Sube, who receive an estimated £44,000 a year in handouts, are demanding a larger home, claiming their three-bedroom, end-of-terrace house is too small.
But the local council says the couple have already rejected three offers of more spacious homes – two without even viewing them – all of which were snapped up by other tenants.
These included a five-bedroom property in Luton, Bedfordshire, which the family complained did not have a dining room or storage.
Arnold Mballe Sube and his wife Jeanne, both 33, currently share their three-bedroom, end-of-terrace home in Luton with their eight young children but describe it as ‘terrible’
The family claim the conditions of their current home in Luton, Bedfordshire (pictured) are ‘terrible’, but turned down the chance to live somewhere roomier over a lack of storage space
One of the houses the family turned down was a £250,000 terraced three-storey townhouse in Luton
It comes after the French couple reportedly ran up a taxpayer-funded £38,400 hotel bill plus a £21,000 room service and restaurant charge when they were waiting for their present home.
Tory MPs last night branded the family’s demands ‘shameless’ and accused them of ‘making a mockery of the benefits system’.
Council chiefs have now given the Subes an ultimatum: accept a fourth and final offer of a five-bedroom home or face eviction from their current house.
The family live in a £140,000 house in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, which costs taxpayers £15,000 a year in rent.
Mr and Mrs Sube both have smartphones and a laptop and the house is kitted out with a 60-inch flatscreen TV and Sky HD box in their front room, plus a 52-inch TV in their bedroom.
Their children – Mejane, 16, Fabian, 13, Analia, 13, Prosper, ten, Dylan, nine, six-year-old twins Sharon and Stacy, and three-month-old Mary – also have a TV and an Xbox with dozens of games.
But despite this Mr Sube, who uses one bedroom as a gym and office, describes it as ‘the worst place they have ever lived’ and insists he has been ‘neglected’ by the council.
He said: ‘It’s so cramped and the conditions are terrible. My children are starting school and we can’t stay here any longer.
Their current home: The family complain they are living in overcrowded conditions with a lack of storage
The main bedroom Arnold Mballe Sube and his wife Jeanne, 33, share with their baby
HANDOUTS FOR FAMILY
It is not clear exactly what benefits the family claim, but as EU citizens they would be entitled to up to £25,000 a year in handouts while receiving housing benefit.
In their home they have flatscreen televisions, games consoles and a Sky HD box.
They have received hand-outs worth more than £103,000 in the last 12 months, including:
- £44,000 in housing and child benefits, child tax credits and NHS course payments worth £27,000
- £38,400 four-month hotel stay
- £21,000 in room service
‘The council is trying to make things hard for us… we need a five or six-bedroom house with double rooms to comfortably fit our family.’
Mr Sube, who says he has enlisted solicitors over the problem, rejected a previous offer of a five-bedroom house as not good enough.
‘We are entitled to six bedrooms. I believe that the council has to support me in order for me to become a positive person and contribute to the tax system,’ he said.
The couple were born in Cameroon but later moved to France, Mr Sube when he was 18.
They moved from Paris to Luton in 2012 after Mr Sube got a place on a mental health nursing course at the University of Bedfordshire. The NHS funds the annual £9,000 cost of the three-year degree.
The family initially lived in a large five-bedroom semi-detached house on a quiet residential road in Luton worth £220,000.
But they had to move out after the landlord sold up. They were then put up for four months at the Hampton by Hilton hotel in Luton at a cost of £38,400. The council also paid £21,000 for the family’s room service and restaurant bill after Mr Sube refused to pay.
He told The Sun: ‘We couldn’t cook. Children were eating on the carpet. We were ordering room service, chicken and chips, Chinese food. We had to order it twice per day for all the kids and all the family.
The family claim the conditions of their current home (pictured), are ‘terrible’
Despite their current cramped conditions (pictured), the Sube’s rejected the larger house due to its lack of space
‘The council said I had to pay a bill for living in the hotel. That was very traumatising because we didn’t ask for them to put us there.’
The family are also believed to have been put up in a second hotel in Brent Cross, North London, before the council found them a new house.
Councillor Tom Shaw, who is in charge of housing at Luton Borough Council, said the Subes would be offered a new home in the next few days. If they refused it, they would be categorised as ‘intentionally homeless’.
He added: ‘If classed as intentionally homeless they would then face eviction as they are in a council-let property. It’s difficult to have sympathy when there are a lot of families who would jump at the chance of moving into these properties.
‘In fact, families are already moving into these three properties which he rejected. They were snapped up very quickly. We offered him three suitable properties and he only agreed to view one. He rejected the others without even seeing them.
Mr Sube said there are ten people in his family and they need sufficient space to live. Pictured, one of the bedrooms in their current home
Due to the size of their family, there is very little floor space left in the Sube family home
The couple insist they require at least six double bedrooms for them to live comfortably – and their three-bed home, pictured, is not big enough
‘We are not going to change the system for the family. We have a five-bed and we will make a formal offer in writing. But if it is rejected there’s not much more we can do.
‘The council’s got the right to say that you are intentionally homeless, please go and look after yourself in the private sector.’
A neighbour of the Subes said yesterday: ‘They are a lovely family – they deserve a bigger house. I have five children and I struggle so I don’t know how they are coping.’
But Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough, said: ‘This is the sort of thing that drives my constituents mad.
‘They work hard and scrape by and their hard-earned money and taxes get given to people who some would say don’t deserve it. It just doesn’t seem fair to hard-working families struggling to get by – many of whom would love to have bigger houses. It’s fundamentally wrong.’
Luton Borough Council said they were able to find a suitable house for the Sube family in the area within the budget, but they declined it ‘without good reason’
Mr Sube said he was a student and his wife was a full time mother for their eight children
Last night Mr Sube told the Mail: ‘I’m not a greedy man, they are trying to say we are greedy but we are not. They just haven’t given us the property we deserve.
‘If they now have a five-bedroom house which is suitable then of course we would be happy to take it.
‘We are not greedy – we just want a home for the kids.’ Mr Sube denied that the council offered him three properties and claimed he has been offered just one five-bed with ‘tiny rooms’. He described his current house as ‘horrible’.
He previously worked in a warehouse in France, where he was able to rent a home. ‘I regretted leaving France after moving in this property, even my kids did,’ he added.
Mr Sube said he would ‘challenge’ the council’s decision via his solicitor if the council tried to evict them.
‘They’re absolutely shameless’
By Tom Kelly
Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, said the Sube family are ‘shameless’ in the use of the welfare system
Arnold and Jeanne Mballe Sube’s massive benefits bill was last night accused of bringing the ‘welfare system into disrepute’.
The Cameroon-born couple, who have eight children, are reported to receive annual state handouts and grants worth £44,000.
Someone in work would have to earn £64,000 a year to take home £44,000 after tax and National Insurance are deducted.
Before arriving in Britain, they emigrated from Cameroon to France and became European Union citizens, making them eligible for a raft of benefits in the UK.
Mr Sube is studying to become a psychiatric nurse.
His three-year degree costs £27,000 and is funded by the NHS.
After being evicted from their previous home, the couple also spent four months living in a hotel at a cost of £38,400 to taxpayers, plus a £21,000 room service and restaurant bill, according to The Sun.
The family’s claims have reignited the row over EU migrants’ right to claim benefits in the UK.
Under current rules, once EU nationals have been living in Britain for three months they can claim income-based jobseeker’s allowance and child tax credits up to £2,780 a year per child.
Parents can claim a weekly child benefit allowance of £20.70 for their eldest child and £13.70 a week for additional children.
Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, said: ‘This is making a mockery of the benefits system.
‘It’s absolutely shameless and brings the welfare system into disrepute.
‘This family shouldn’t keep having children if they can’t afford to keep them themselves, and they shouldn’t expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab for a massive family they can’t afford.
‘They should be offered no more housing until they can look after themselves. It’s a kick in the teeth to anybody who behaves responsibly and works hard.
‘The welfare state is there to help people who are in real need of it, not to be an alternative lifestyle choice.’
The rules have been made stricter in recent years in an attempt to discourage people being drawn to the UK by generous state handouts.
While new migrants from the EU cannot claim any benefits until they have lived here for three months and have started work or are actively seeking work with a genuine chance of being hired, because the Subes arrived in the UK in 2012 they are still eligible to receive benefits under the more generous older rules.
In February, former prime minister David Cameron secured a deal with Europe which would have allowed Britain to bar EU migrants claiming in-work benefits for four years.
The scope and scale of the agreement was criticised by Eurosceptics at the time. However, the Cameron deal is now redundant after the historic Leave vote in June.
Earlier this year a manual on how to get the most out of Britain’s benefits system was produced for Polish migrants.
The 20-page brochure gave advice on how to bank thousands of pounds in handouts, and was produced by a UK-based newspaper for the Polish population in this country.
It asserted that the UK had the ‘best developed’ benefits system in Europe.