Clegg defends 'bedroom tax' plans

Nick Clegg

The so-called bedroom tax will mean a cut to the waiting list for social housing, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.

The Government plans to reduce housing benefit for claimants who have a spare bedroom. But this has prompted claims from Labour that ministers are introducing a new tax because some families will be unable to downsize.
Mr Clegg told the House of Commons the reduction in benefit would mean more people could successfully apply for social housing as more bedrooms would be available.

His comments came after a question from Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman. She asked the Deputy Prime Minister: "The bedroom tax is going to hit people all around the country. It is bad enough in my borough of Southwark but it is even worse in worse in your city of Sheffield, where 5,027 will be hit.

"This is not a policy to tackle under-occupation because they can't move. They have got no choice and they have to pay it. That is why it is called the bedroom tax. You only get housing benefit if you are on a low income.

"Will you admit to the House that this is deeply unfair and will make low income people worse off?"

Mr Clegg replied: "The problem you cannot duck is that we have 1.8 million households in this country who are waiting to get social housing provision and we have one million bedrooms which are standing empty.

"That doesn't make sense to have a benefits system that continues to support this mismatch between people needing places to live and empty bedrooms.

"That is what we are trying to address and as with so many things in the reform of welfare, why is that there were no reforms of any meaningful description under Labour and now they balk at every tough decision that we must take."

© 2013 Press Association
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