Jobless Couple With 12 Children Are Given A £500,000 Home
It’s the type of highly-desirable family home that is well beyond the reach of many middle-class professionals. A detached period house, with eight bedrooms, a garden, its own driveway and all set in a leafy residential area of well-to-do Newbury, Berkshire.
But Carl and Samantha Gillespie – together with their 12 children – have been able to move in without paying the slightest heed to Britain’s sky-rocketing house prices.
In fact the couple have been given the keys without lifting a finger in work.
The Gillespie family: Karl , Samantha and their 12 children
It has been revealed that the couple – neither of whom work and who receive an astonishing £44,000 in benefits a year – have been housed in the £500,000 property by their local council.
West Berkshire County Council gave them the keys after their previous council home burnt down in a blaze sparked by one of the couple’s children.
The decision was greeted with anger and incredulity by the couple’s new neighbours, many of whom have spent years working hard to struggle up the property ladder.
The Gillespies have been dubbed ‘Britain’s biggest scroungers’ and are the most notorious example of people taking advantage of our generous benefits system.
The £500,000 eight-bedroom house that the family have been given in Newbury
They receive the equivalent of £44,000 a year in benefits, a figure made up of £1,500 a month housing benefit; £1,200 a month child tax credit; £560 a month child benefits; £280 job seeker’s allowance and £1,600 a year in council tax.
Former book-keeper Samantha, 35, had five children from a previous relationship when she married Carl, who used to work as a door-to-door salesman. They are Craig, 16, Adam, 14, Jack, 13, Rebekah, 11, and Harry, nine.
The couple then had seven of their own: twins Parris-Jordan and Kesla Blu, eight; twins Mason and Peaches, six; Logan, four, and the three-year-old twins Skye and Kalifornya.
When asked why they don’t work, the couple say that looking after their children is a full time job. And they claim they would earn less working than they do claiming the dole.
Mr Gillespie has revealed that he quit a job at stacking shelves at Asda before he had even started, when he realised the £300 a week he would earn would result in a £400 benefits cut.
He said: “Some people may think we’re a bunch of spongers, but it’s not true.” His wife added: “I was born to have children, it’s what I am here for.”
However, their MP, Labour’s Martin Salter, has said “There is no excuse for any able-bodied person to be long-term unemployed in Reading, where jobs are plentiful.
“People who have large families should accept financial responsibility for that decision.”
Prior to their latest home, the Gillespies were housed in a five-bedroom property in Purley-on-Thames, Berkshire.
However, in June last year the property burnt down when one of the family’s youngest twins played with a cigarette lighter.
Following that they lived in temporary council accommodation and the children were ferried to and from school in a minibus, paid for by the council.
Their latest home, formerly a hotel, is estimated to have cost £350,000 to buy and a further £150,000 to renovate with double-glazing, carpets, central heating and furniture.
Mr and Mrs Gillespie claim that they want to go out to work but would lose more than they gain.
The family said when they were offered an eight-bedroom £500,000 house from the council they had no choice but to take it as previous accommodation had been totally unsuitable.
Despite this, neighbours said the family were the ‘wrong sort’ and shouldn’t be there.
Mr Gillespie, 34, said: “We’re not scroungers and if it was economical for me to work then I would do.
“We can just about survive on the money we’ve got but I can’t give my kids nice things that other parents could like days out, and if I were working I could afford them.
“The last job I had was in 2000 or 2001 when I was working at ASDA earning £300 to £350 a month.
“I did this for ten weeks and at that time my housing benefit was cut from £1600 to £800 a month so it just didn’t make sense for me to carry on working.”
Mrs Gillespie, 36, added: “All our kids are in school and they want to make something of themselves and not just scrounge and live off the dole.
“My oldest son Craig joined the army last week and we’re doing our best to make sure the others have careers as well.
“If we were scroungers we’d be telling them to either have babies or get straight on the dole, but we’re not.
“Before we were offered this house we lived in a three-bedroom house which was temporary accommodation.
“There were seven boys in one bedroom and five girls in another. In the boys bedroom we had three sets of bunk beds lined up next to each other and you could hardly move”.
The house itself is a three storey modern brick detached farmhouse style home in a quiet residential street in Newbury.
It has its own gate and is set back from the road by a gravel driveway on which are a Fiat Bravo, a Ford Escort, two bicycles, a broken pushchair and a washing machine.
Neighbour Betty Giles, 80, said: “It’s not right for them to be in there. I live with my son and he’s mortgaged up to his eyeballs so it’s pretty stiff for him to see them move into such a nice house.”
Another female neighbour in her sixties, who declined to be named for fear of retribution, said: “They’re the wrong sort of people for round here.
“Most people on the street are elderly and I think there’s only one other family in the vicinity, but nowhere near as big as theirs.
“The general mood is that they’re not wanted.” The family moved in on May 14th.
Mrs Gillespie showed me her annual income support form which was £19,775.74 but this does not include housing benefit.
Paul and Samantha have eight children together and she has four from a previous relationship, making 12 in total.
The children they have had together are Harry 10, Parris Jordan 8, Kesla 8, Mason 7, Peaches 7, Logan 5, Skye 3 and Californya 3.
Samantha’s children from her previous relationship are Craig 17, Adam 16, Jack 14 and Rebekah 13.
West Berkshire Council was unavailable for comment.