The GMB trades union has launched a scathing attack on the private rental sector which it says will benefit if the Conservatives win the election and enact their promise of allowing housing association tenants to buy their homes.
The union claims that while tens of thousands of London families are unable to find a council house to rent, rich farmers and the elite are scooping them up.
It says it has undertaken research which shows that of 4.2m households living in private rented accommodation across Britain, the rent in 1.6m or 38 per cent of those cases is paid in part or in full by taxpayers.
This adds up to an annual total of £9.2 billion going to landlords in housing benefit.
The GMB research is based heavily on the south London borough of Wandsworth.
In that borough, the union says that of 15,874 dwellings in council blocks which have been purchased by tenants under the Right To Buy legislation enacted by successive governments, some 6,180 dwellings are now owned by private landlords who rent them to private tenants. That is nearly 40 per cent of the total sold by the council.
It says there are 977 private landlords who own more than one of these 6,180 dwellings.
One private landlord allegedly owns 93 and another owns 32. Another 15 landlords each own 10 or more and a further 83 landlords each own between five and nine of these dwellings.
In Wandsworth and elsewhere private businesses are making vast profits from the public purse while the people these homes were built for sit on waiting lists that never move. To add insult to injury many are using offshore tax havens to avoid paying tax on these profits claims GMB general secretary Paul Kenny.