Although bigamy is illegal in Britain, men who married more than one woman in countries where the practice was legal and then brought them to the UK have been allowed for years to receive multiple benefits.
Critics claimed the controversial system meant the state is effectively "recognising" polygamous marriages, of which there are thought to be about a thousand in the UK.
The practice is largely confined to Muslim men, who are permitted under some interpretations of Islamic law to have up to four wives in a harem – as long as they spend equal amounts of time and money on each partner.
The system of paying extra benefits for multiple wives was reviewed under Labour in an exercise involving four separate Whitehall branches – The Treasury, the Department for Work & Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs and the Home Office.
The review concluded that recognising multiple marriages which had taken place overseas in the benefits system was the "best possible option" and official guidelines on income support were amended early in 2008. Read more...