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Political row erupts as Osborne uses Philpotts to highlight welfare abuses

THE Philpott case has sparked a furious debate in Britain about social welfare benefits at a time of controversial austerity measures.

Yesterday, the chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne suggested that the conviction of Mick Philpott raised questions about the welfare system.

Mr Osborne said that it was now time for society to "question" whether it was appropriate for "lifestyles" such as Philpott's to be funded by the taxpayer.

The shocking details of Philpott's benefit-funded lifestyle have led to allegations that he sought to manipulate the welfare system by forcing women to have children to receive handouts.

It is thought that the former soldier received the equivalent of a £100,000 (€118,000) salary when his benefit payments were added to the wages he forced his wife and mistress to hand over.

However, Labour accused Mr Osborne of "cynically" exploiting Philpott's crimes to justify the Government's controversial benefit reforms unveiled this week.

Ed Balls said: "Osborne now needs to explain why he has chosen to comment on this case, and why he has sought to make a link between a terrible crime and the welfare system, when he has said nothing about the financial circumstances of those who commit other terrible crimes."

Irish Independent