An unmarried Muslim mother of eight is living the highlife on British taxpayers’ expense after being provided with a £2.6 million mansion as part of her housing benefit by a London Council.
“I’m not going to pretend it isn’t great,” said 33 year old Francesca Walker, whose children by two fathers are aged from five to 16.
Speaking to a London newspaper about her house which costs taxpayers £90,000 a year, she added that she doesn’t know how to use the dishwasher, can’t quite believe the granite kitchen counters, and feels lost in her en-suite bathroom the size of a living room.
In October it was revealed a family of eight Afghan invaders were being housed in a £1.2 million private home in Ealing for an annual taxpayer-funded rental of £150,000.
Miss Walker was given the five bedroom, three bathroom four-floor property because of a loophole which means Kensington and Chelsea council had to fund a suitable home in the borough for a family of that size.
“Look at these lovely high-gloss kitchen units,” she told a newspaper reporter, taking him on a tour of the villa in Ladbroke Road which has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, double living room, study and roof terrace on four floors.
“All my life I’ve lived in overcrowded flats on estates with gangs that kicked our door in and harassed my children, but now we’re living on a street of millionaires.” The taxpayer picks up the tab for her monthly rent of £7,600.
Kensington and Chelsea council moved her into the property in September, and she now has David Cameron, Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis as neighbours.
Miss Walker, a British-born Muslim studying psychology through the Open University, said she had been taken into care at 14 after her mother suffered a nervous breakdown, and had since attempted to rebuild her life.
She gets £15,000 a year in benefits in addition to the £91,260 rent paid by the Government via the council.
To her affluent neighbours, Miss Walker, in her embroidered espadrilles and hijab, is something of an enigma. Many have never rubbed shoulders with a council tenant and some took her to be the wife of a Middle Eastern businessman.
Guests can’t fail to notice she has furnished the villa in style. She has two 42in flat-screen TVs, a computer and a clutch of expensive looking sofas and Ottoman beds.
The house does not feel sparsely appointed, as some might expect, given that she’s meant to be living on the poverty line and it was rented “unfurnished.”
So how does she manage to afford all this on benefits? “I’m a self-taught seamstress,” she told the newspaper, showing the reporter her sewing machine. “I buy second-hand sofas off eBay for £95 that would sell for £3,000 new then re-upholster them. I also got the TVs off eBay for £110.”
She was brought up by her Jamaican-born mother on the World’s End estate in Chelsea after her father, a musician, abandoned them.
She smiles. “And now that I am here, I’m not going to pretend it isn’t great. It’s amazing to have so much space