Benefits family turns down 5-bed home - because it doesn't have a dining room

The Sube family

A French family of ten have turned down a five-bedroom council house, claiming they should be offered something bigger.

Arnold Mballe Sube and his wife Jeanne, both 33, moved to the UK from France in 2012, so that he could study mental health nursing at the University of Bedfordshire.

The couple, whose eight children range in age from 16 down to just a few weeks old, were initially housed in a hotel, at a reported cost to the council of £21,000.

After four months, they were moved to a three-bedroom terraced house, with the £1,278 per month rent paid by Luton Borough Council. According to the Sun, the family has received £108,000 worth of help in the last 12 months - in the form of the hotel stay, housing and child benefit, child tax credits and the fees for Arnold's course, which are being paid by the NHS.

They've since been offered a five-bedroom home, but have turned it down on the grounds that it doesn't have enough storage space.

"There wasn't space for the things of ten people - it didn't even have a dining room," Arnold complains to Luton Today.

"The council is trying to make things hard for us, my wife is a full-time mother and I am a student. They're just making excuses, we need a five- or six-bedroom house with double rooms to comfortably fit our family in."

The council, though, says it's already done more than enough. "Despite difficulties, we managed to find Mr and Mrs Sube affordable housing that is large enough to house them and their eight children," says a spokesman.

"After a generous offer on our part, we have done our bit and if housing is offered and declined without, what we judge, good reason, then we will offer the property to another family."

With far less social housing than there used to be, councils are these days scrutinised for their decisions. In recent years, both Ipswich Council and Gloucester Council have been slated for the accommodation they offered to families of 12.

However, it's worth remembering that cases like this make the headlines precisely because they're so very rare. And, now that the Subes have rejected the five-bed property offered by the council, they'll be stuck where they are - unless they can sort something better out for themselves.
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