Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall estate and the Crown Estate received a total of more than £200,000 in housing benefit payments for their tenants last year, according to a report.
Campaigners called for regulation of the amount of housing benefit that is paid to landlords, saying the money was helping them to “grow their property empires” rather than helping poor people.
The Crown Estate was paid at least £38,539 in housing benefit payments by one council last year, while the Duchy of Cornwall received at least £163,000, the Daily Mirror reported, adding that the true figures were probably higher.
Defend Council Housing, a campaigner group, said there should be a cap on the amount of housing benefit that landlords can be paid.
“We should be regulating the amount of rent we pay to landlords like him and if the Duchy of Cornwall paid its fair share of taxes we could use the money to build new high quality council housing for the benefit of the nation,” Eileen Short, a spokeswoman for the group, said.
“The housing benefit bill has increased hugely and more than £9bn will be paid this year to private landlords. Taxpayers’ money is being used to line the pockets of wealthy landlords and property speculators.”
She added: “Prince Charles was brought up in the biggest council house in Britain -- Buckingham Palace.”
GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny said: “Things have come to a pretty pass when even the royals are acting as middle men and receiving benefits for their tenants. Why can they not just hand the houses to a housing association?”
Teresa Pearce, a Labour MP, said landlords “see the welfare state as a market and its purpose is to put public money in private hands”.
The Crown Estate said: “Our properties are let to a range of tenants including residents who may receive housing benefit. As with any landlord, there are some cases where tenants receive housing benefit and the rent is paid directly by the local authority from the tenant’s benefit to the landlord. All of The Crown Estate’s profits are returned to the Treasury each year for the benefit of the nation’s public finances.”
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has rejected a cap on landlord’s housing benefit payments, saying: “I suspect you would end up with fewer landlords actually making properties available.”