Their magnificent townhouse overlooks a courtyard and is in one of the most expensive areas of London. It has four storeys, six bedrooms (some with balconies), three sitting rooms and four bathrooms – as well as a concierge service. The property is worth a cool £1.8 million and would cost you or me nearly £1,600 a week to rent.

So who do you think lives here. Is it: (a) a banker; (b) an MP fiddling expenses; or (c) an unemployed former asylum seeker and her family? The last answer is the correct one. In other words, taxpayers are picking up the £6,400-a-month bill to keep Nasra Warsame, seven of her brood and her elderly mother in the lap of luxury.

Mrs Warsame’s husband and their eighth child, by the way, have been provided with a two-bedroom council flat nearby. His wife’s palatial residence isn’t big enough, apparently, to accommodate them all.

So how is Mrs Warsame enjoying her publicly-funded mansion? There was no response when we ‘buzzed’ her state-of-the art video intercom which allows her to screen visitors. No one could blame her for keeping a low profile (if that’s possible in such a grand home), considering that her case, among others, prompted the Government’s announcement this week that benefit rules are to be changed.

For the Warsames are one of a number of families enjoying life on Millionaires’ Row, courtesy of our welfare state system. Let’s take a quick tour. First stop, David Cameron’s trendy neighbourhood of Notting Hill and a £2.6million villa with wooden floors, granite work tops and roof terrace – home to single mother-of-eight Francesca Walker. Francesca, whose mother is Jamaican, spent many years in a succession of council flats, which she claimed were virtually uninhabitable. As a result, the council was forced to consider her as ‘technically homeless’.

Her eight children are fathered by two different men and she was housed in a privately-owned villa because the council had no suitable accommodation of its own.

Next is a detached, double-fronted £1.2million house in Acton, West London, with three shower rooms and ‘accessories’ including a 50-in plasma TV, laptops, Wii, iPhone and PlayStation – home to the seven-strong Saiedi family from Afghanistan.

Then there is the £1million mock-Tudor property, comprising two sitting rooms, conservatory and double garage, in Edgware (home to single mother-of-five Omowunmi Odia), and another £1million property in Barnet (home to the Connors, a family of Irish travellers).

In fact, 16 families are living in million-pound-plus London properties funded by the controversial Local Housing Allowance, which allows people to rent from private landlords and hand the bill to the state. These examples alone cost us £2.4million a year – enough to put at least 100 extra police officers on the streets of the capital.

But this isn’t the real story, or not all of the story, anyway. It gets even worse. Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper insists ‘very high rents’ represent only a ‘small proportion’ of overall housing allowance claims. Well, that depends on how you define ‘very high’. Does £1,000-a-week fall into this category? The Mail has learned that around 100 households, mostly in London, now receive this amount via their local authority. How many families can afford monthly mortgage repayments of £4,000?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it could not provide us with figures for those claiming £500 a week without receiving a Freedom of Information request in writing, which means Christmas would have come and gone by the time we got an answer. But Tory-run Westminster Council, which has been left to pick up the flak over Mrs Warsame, was happy to oblige. Funnily enough, no Freedom of Information request was required. In fact, a staggering 800 households in the borough qualify for £500-a-week payments. Or, to put it another way, they are living in properties that, back in the real world, they would only be able to afford if they were earning between £70,000 and £80,000 a year.

The average salary in this country, remember, is a little more than £20,000 a year…..

Here’s one final statistic to ponder. In five other London boroughs, including Islington, and Hammersmith and Fulham, 722 families each receive a Local Housing Allowance of £2,000 a month – which adds up to more than £30million a year of taxpayers’ money.

And this at a time of the worst recession in living memory. A time when, apart from anything else, we can’t afford even to send our troops into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan with the proper equipment. Could there be a more potent example of just how wrong-headed this country has become?