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Housing Benefit: How Many Families Received £100,000? Just Five

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As part of his bid to justify a raft of new welfare reforms, George Osborne pointed to families claiming as much as £100,000 a year in housing benefits, but how many people actually received that amount?

Speaking at a branch of Morrisons in Kent on Tuesday, the chancellor told workers: "When I took this job, I discovered there were some people who got £100,000 a year in Housing Benefit. £100,000 a year in benefit. No family on an ordinary income could ever dream of affording a rent like that."

Using this number, he went on to defend cuts to council tax as well as the so-called bedroom tax, a highly divisive reform which cuts benefits for those in social housing with a spare room.

Critics including some charities, churches as well as the Labour Party have argued the move targets the most vulnerable in society, including carers and the disabled.

No family is currently able to claim £100,000 in housing benefit from the government following reforms already put in place.

The numbers that previously managed to claim that amount were minuscule, with Full Fact reporting that in 2010, when Osborne became chancellor, only five families received that amount.

After the government introduced the cap of £400 a week housing benefit in 2011, no family was able to claim £100,000, with the exception of those in temporary accomodation or homeless shelters.

The department for work and pensions (DWP) told The Huffington Post UK in November 2012 only 30 families in the UK were claiming housing benefit over £50,000, but could not break that number down any further.

Ministers have been criticised for not researching the effects of housing benefit more thoroughly in March, with the Commons Public Accounts Committee saying the DWP was "worryingly unaware" of how plans to cut housing benefit will affect claimants and if the reforms will even save money.

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