British men who marry several women in a country where polygamy is allowed can legally claim welfare benefits for all of them, a government review has concluded.

Polygamy is illegal in Britain, but the Department for Work and Pensions said Saturday that its yearlong review of welfare regulations dating back to 1987 found that men who marry several women legally in other countries can maintain those relationships here and claim welfare benefits for each one.

The ministry estimates that up to 1,000 polygamous relationships exist in Britain, and the ruling is expected to primarily benefit members of the Muslim minority who married elsewhere under Islamic law.

But the Department for Work and Pensions said few of Britain's polygamous families claimed welfare benefits.

Concerns were raised in 2006 that a loophole in the income support system might give a financial advantage to people with more than one spouse. But the review found that this was not the case.

Currently, a successful welfare claimant with one spouse is paid around $183 a week, while each additional spouse receives a payment of approximately $67.