Ipswich: Family of TWELVE to get six-bedroom council home after Ipswich Borough Council approve two-house conversion costing thousands

An IBC spokesman admitted it was a very unusual situation but insisted it was the most cost-effec

An IBC spokesman admitted it was a very unusual situation but insisted it was the most cost-effective option to meet the familys needs. - Credit: Archant

A family of TWELVE will move into a new six-bedroom council home at the taxpayers’ expense after borough chiefs granted permission for a two-house conversion, the Star can today reveal.

More than 80 people signed a petition in opposition to the move in Maidenhall, Ipswich, which is set to cost thousands of pounds.

But Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) bosses turned down those objections and told the Star work to convert the three-bedroom council properties is expected to start this week.

It will see builders knock through an unoccupied house next door to where the family live, creating a new six-bedroom home.

An IBC spokesman admitted it was a “very unusual situation” but insisted it was the most “cost-effective option” to meet the family’s needs.

The work would be completed within two months, costing £6,000, he added.

It is understood the family moved in to their home seven years ago. It is believed 10 children live there with two unemployed parents.

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Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the news will “concern” taxpayers and argued it reinforced the importance of the Coalition Government’s flagship welfare reform, the Universal Credit, which he said will ensure people only take on “responsibilities they can afford”.

The policy, to be fully implemented in 2017, will merge several individual benefits into one payment. The sum paid to claimants will be automatically adjusted to ensure they are always better off in work than on welfare.

“I know it will be a real concern for people across south west Ipswich and the town and it shows why we need to continue with benefit reforms to ensure that people can only take on responsibilities that they can afford,” Mr Gummer said.

“People who are paying these bills are taxpayers and I think they will look at the benefit system as a whole and see the reasons why the government is trying to reform it against much opposition.”

He added: “Clearly the children in the household cannot be blamed for their parents’ actions but I would like to know how many parents are involved.”

A Maidenhall homeowner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he signed the petition in protest over the “waste of taxpayers’ money”.

He said: “It’s been empty for three months and another family could have moved in. The council is missing out on extra rent. It’s ridiculous. They could have built an extension instead.”

The IBC spokesman said there are currently 3,203 people on the council’s housing waiting list, with 391 of these eligible for three-bedroom homes. He confirmed a total of 84 people signed the petition.

He added: “This is a very unusual situation and not something we would normally contemplate doing but, having reviewed all the options, we believe that this is the most cost-effective option to find a solution to this family’s needs.

“The alterations can be reversed in the future. We have only one six-bedroom house in our stock.”

He confirmed a petition was submitted and considered before the council reached its decision, adding: “We have completed the structural surveys and will begin work on conversion soon.”

Jim Powell, councillor for the Bridge ward in south west Ipswich, said he supported the decision taken by the council – as long as there were no other better-suited alternatives.

“They would have looked at the situation very carefully before coming to that conclusion,” he said.

He added he had not received any complaints from residents about the move.

The family of twelve declined to comment when contacted.