Tag Archives: bedroom tax

Lib Dem MPs were right not to play Labour’s silly games over the Bedroom Tax

Twitter has been full of Labour types slating Liberal Democrat MPs for voting against Labour’s parliamentary motion on the Bedroom Tax. When longstanding critics of the measure like Tim Farron and Julian Huppert vote with the Government, then there has to be a good reason. In fact, there are three.

1. This was just a Labour stunt

It was a parliamentary game to go along with a data gathering exercise Labour have been doing over the past few days. Social media has lit up with a link to a site in Liberal Democrat colours asking people to sign up to stand against the Bedroom Tax. All they wanted was the excuse to put on a leaflet that the Liberal Democrats had voted to keep the Bedroom Tax. Of course, it won’t mention that they voted in favour of Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill which made proper, actual sensible changes.

This is not a new tactic. I dare say we’ve used it ourselves plenty times in the past when in opposition. The SNP used to do it all the time when Labour and the Liberal Democrats were in power in Scotland. This may be a good moment to remind people that they (that’s most SNP MPs) never turned up to support Andrew George’s Bill. That’s an aside, though. What happens is that the opposition puts up a motion that even opponents of the measure in the Government couldn’t possibly vote for so that they can make political hay.

2. Labour’s motion did nothing for private sector tenants affected by similar measure introduced by…Labour

Yesterday’s motion was not about actually making anyone’s life better. It had no chance of helping those who are struggling with the Bedroom Tax. Nor did it to anything for those who are stuck in overcrowded accommodation. Even if their motion had passed, it would not have been binding on the Government, nor would it have tackled the hardship faced by people renting in the private sector. We forget that Labour brought something very similar to the Bedroom Tax in for private sector tenants in 2008. Yes, it’s slightly different in that it didn’t apply to existing tenancies, but there is much greater turnover in private sector tenancies, so it’s been causing real difficulties too. We shouldn’t ignore that. Funnily enough, Labour’s motion did ignore the problems they had caused.

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PMQs: Nick Clegg comes back from Cornwall

clegg on leveson 2I stopped doing PMQ write-ups some time ago. They were getting so repetitive and mind-numbingly pointless that I was losing the will to live.

Today’s exchange between Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman was typical of the genre. Harriet Harman made some very good prepared points, and Nick Clegg blasted away on Labour’s record and mentioned some good bits from this government’s record. There was a lot huing and crying and then everyone went to lunch.

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Farron name checks Liberal Democrat PPCs Julie Pörksen and Vikki Slade in Commons Bedroom Tax speech

"Frozen Poetry" - Houses of Parliament, LondonDuring the debate on Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill yesterday, Tim Farron name-checked the two Liberal Democrat candidates whose motion on the Bedroom Tax was passed with just one vote against at Party Conference last year.  Julie Pörksen, PPC for Berwick and Vikki Slade, PPC for Mid Poole and Dorset North, argued strongly for the sort of reform to the policy that has now appeared in Andrew’s Bill.

Here’s what Tim had to say:

I am proud of my hon. Friend the Member for St Ives for bringing this Bill forward, and I am proud of my party for pushing us all collectively to reflect on the proposals before us today. I would like to mention Vikki Slade and Julie Pörksen, who proposed at our conference a year ago that we look again at this policy. Frankly, Members of all parties would do well to admit that, on reflection, things could have been done better. Given that we were put in this economic crisis in the first place, it would be lovely to see from Opposition Members a change of heart and an admission that things did not go as well as they could have done.

He then looked at the practical reasons why the Bill should be passed. It should be noted that it’s not all about the Bedroom Tax. It’s also about the wider issue of the lack of housing which drives rents and consequently Housing Benefit up.

photo by: Gaurav Pradhan
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‘Bedroom Tax': Lib Dem Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill wins key Commons vote backed by Lib Dem / Labour MPs

andrew georgeA year ago Lib Dem members voted at the party’s conference for an urgent review of the impact of what’s termed by critics the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Two months ago Danny Alexander announced he’d be recommending a major U-turn on the policy. And this afternoon, as the BBC reports, Lib Dem MPs teamed up with Labour to vote through reforms which mean that tenants who cannot be found a smaller home will be exempt from the cuts, as well as disabled people who need a spare bedroom or who have adapted homes:

Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs have joined forces to defeat Conservatives in a Commons vote to partly overturn housing benefit changes. MPs backed the Affordable Homes Bill at second reading by 306 votes to 231.

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Opinion: Is the rethink on the Bedroom Tax too little, too late?

Clegg axe bedroom taxThe Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (the ‘bedroom tax’) has not met its intended outcomes. This has led to an apparent U-turn by the Liberal Democrat leadership, based on evidence published in the interim policy evaluation. This report highlighted the economic hardship experienced by those affected and that the accelerated demand for downsizing has been difficult to meet.

It is to be applauded that Liberal Democrats appear to have responded to evidence which suggests that the policy isn’t working. Also to be welcomed is the intention to …

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The Lib Dems’ ‘bedroom tax’ U-turn: new poll on what the voters think about it

Spare Bedroom Photo by Flack JackThe Lib Dems announced a few days ago the party’s 2015 manifesto would propose reform of the ‘bedroom tax’ / ‘spare room subsidy’, which would means no tenant would have any of their housing benefit withdrawn unless they had turned down an offer of a smaller property.

It was a long overdue climbdown – as I wrote in April 2013: “The principle of the ‘bedroom tax’, then — to try and maximise the availability of social housing and reduce the chronic waiting lists — is

photo by:
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LibLink: Danny Alexander: We want a fair housing benefit system for every tenant

speech danny alexander 6People wonder why Liberal Democrats supported the Bedroom Tax in the first place. Well, I spent 4 yesrs sitting beside a Liberal Democrat MP when maybe 5 families a week would  come to us and say that they were stuck in a house that was way too small. Their kids had nowhere to study or play. That was what was foremost in their minds when they agreed the Bedroom Tax. They wanted to make it easier for those families. That was their motivation even though I think the …

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++Breaking…Clegg: “We must axe Bedroom Tax”

I got wind of this about an hour ago.

Here is tomorrow’s Daily Mirror front page.

Clegg axe bedroom tax

More to follow. In the meantime, have a read of my post from earlier.

That’ll be number 22 on Stephen Tall’s list of policies that we share with Labour…

Update: 22:47.

This email has just been sent from Danny Alexander explaining the party’s thinking. We’re not going for abolition, but for a great reform which means that nobody would have to pay unless they had turned down an offer of a smaller property which ticks a lot more of …

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Bedroom Tax review raises serious questions – abolition or serious reform is now essential

Bedroom tax demo , all the photos taken with a iphone 5In amidst the excitement of the Cabinet reshuffle, the Government slipped out its first interim review of what is technically called the “Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy”. That’s the “Bedroom Tax” to you and me. The conclusions are pretty damning:

At the time of the research, four out of five claimants affected by the RSRS were reported by landlords to be paying some or all of their shortfall, although half of these had failed to pay in full. There

photo by: paul bevan
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Opinion: It’s time to concentrate on the “Fairer Society”

Liberal democratsThe main criticism of the party leadership after the terrible European election results has come from those who see themselves on the ‘Fairer Society’ wing of the party. Over the last 4 years the Conservatives in the Coalition have swung more and more to the right on the NHS, welfare and immigration, making the decision to enter the coalition more and more untenable. Liberal Democrats in Government have continued to feel themselves constrained by ‘cabinet collective responsibility’ (CCR) even as the rightward shift has undermined the Liberal Democrat position on a ‘Fairer Society’

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The two Orange Bookers who’ve won over the Lib Dem membership

Orange_BookIt’s 10 years since The Orange Book was published. Edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall it was widely regarded as an attempt by economic liberals within the Lib Dems to wrest back control of the party from social liberals.

Both Laws and Marshall would argue their attempt at ‘reclaiming liberalism’ (the book’s sub-title) was more about re-balancing liberalism as practised by the Lib Dems — that the party had grown intellectually lazy, happiest with simply saying ‘tax more, spend more’ as the answer to every public policy problem without thinking …

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Opinion: The “Bedroom Tax”: a great socialist policy?

Bedroom tax demo , all the photos taken with a iphone 5One thing escapes most political commentators when critiquing the merits of the Bedroom Tax. It is, of course, a great socialist policy.

Of course most commentators accept New Labour introduced the Bedroom Tax through the Local Housing Allowance policy from 2003 to 2008. The mistake commentators make is that they believe LHA to be an ideologically compassionate conservative policy, instead of democratic socialist one.

The argument has two parts. The first is relatively straight forward. For a socialist common ownership (of which …

photo by: paul bevan
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The Independent View: The case for ‘bedroom tax’ reform is clear – the test is for Lib Dems to take it up

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 15.25.47In physics the conservation principle dictates that in closed systems, energy can neither be created or destroyed, but only turned from one form to another. New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation examining recent welfare reforms suggest that a similar law applies to housing support costs.

Applying size limits to social tenants – better known as the spare room subsidy or ‘bedroom tax’ – aimed to do three things. Reduce costs; ease overcrowding and introduce greater fairness into the system. Specifically, if you were a social tenant with extra space that you didn’t strictly need you should pay for the advantage like all other people with housing costs.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged | 44 Comments

Tim Farron “will withdraw party’s support for Bedroom Tax”

Bedroom tax demo , all the photos taken with a iphone 5Ok, so we’ll overlook the Guardian’s inaccurate headline. Have they learned nothing from years of watching our policy making process? Tim Farron doesn’t have the power to do what the Guardian says he’s done:

The Liberal Democrat president, Tim Farron, will withdraw his party’s support for the bedroom tax on Wednesday, saying it has caused “huge social problems.”

I think he’s right, of course. It might just about be ok if there were suitable smaller properties for people to move into, or if …

photo by: paul bevan
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Tim Farron says Liberal Democrats are likely to oppose “Bedroom Tax” in 2015

Tim Farron has said that he expects that Liberal Democrats will oppose the so-called “Bedroom Tax” in 2015. In an interview with Inside Housing, he has said that in its current form it was causing hardship and depriving housing associations of the money to build much needed new homes. While he praised the Liberal Democrats who had secured more money for discretionary housing payments to mitigate its effects, he acknowledged that reforms were needed.

He said:

I would be disappointed if we did support it in its current form.

I do not expect our party to support this policy unreformed, we must

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Opinion: Don’t close spare room subsidy loophole – just yet

In January, it was revealed that there was a loophole in the Government’s welfare reforms. The loophole relates to those people claiming Housing Benefit whilst in the same property for at least the past 17 years.

The government have indicated they will reverse this loophole as soon as possible. Reports suggest legislation will be brought forward in March.

I would call on the government to hold on closing this loophole until the independent review, ordered by Nick Clegg, has reported back on the implications of the spare bedroom subsidy.

I base this on my own experiences. Although I lost my seat in May

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Bedroom Tax no more in Scotland – with Scottish Liberal Democrat support

It’s been a big week for the Scottish Parliament. On Tuesday, Holyrood passed a much stronger equal marriage bill than we have south of the border. Yesterday it passed a budget which, with different ideas incorporated from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, will make a huge difference to many people in Scotland.

The Holyrood budget process is very different. You’d never find George Osborne publishing his budget 3 months in advance, letting all parties contribute to the process and then putting an amended budget through Parliament incorporating new ideas. It’s to Finance Secretary John Swinney’s great credit that he adopts …

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Tim Farron “set to vote against the “Bedroom Tax” while Swales, Mulholland, R Williams and Sanders table motion against it

From the Guardian‘s live politics blog (3:15)

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, is set to vote against the government on the bedroom tax tonight, I’m told. A friend of Farron’s tells me: “Party conference in Glasgow expressed its will very strongly against the bedroom tax and so Tim is listening to party members and will probably be voting against the government tonight. Tim is the voice of the party members, they have expressed their view and Tim wants to make sure that their voice is heard.”

Here’s the motion on the bedroom tax that the Lib Dems passed at their party

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Danny Alexander’s father criticises the Bedroom Tax

From the Independent:

The father of Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has launched a scathing attack on the “bedroom tax” in the annual report of a Scottish housing association.

Di Alexander is the chair of the Lochaber Housing Association and in its annual report, he has this to say about the Bedroom Tax and other aspects of welfare reform:

The Association has also been facing up to the considerable challenges presented by Welfare Reform changes. The first of these to be implemented – the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ – is particularly unfair in that it penalises both our tenants and ourselves for

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Michael Moore “turned down chance to resign Cabinet post”

A report in today’s Herald suggests that former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore was offered the chance to resign from the Cabinet rather than be sacked. A “spend more time with his family” scenario was apparently Nick Clegg’s first choice method of removal. Moore, though, was reportedly not having any of it:

In what might have been meant as a conciliatory gesture, Mr Clegg offered his Cabinet colleague the chance to resign. But friends of Mr Moore made clear the Borders MP rebuffed the offer immediately, telling his party leader: “If you are going to sack me, sack me. I won’t

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Bedroom tax: Lib Dem conference says no – as do 53% of party members

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 700 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Lib Dem conference representatives voted overwhelmingly to review the controversial policy known by most as the ‘bedroom tax’, by some as the ‘spare room subsidy’ and by no-one at all as the ‘under-occupancy charge’. Here’s how the BBC reported it:

In the last of a series of debates at the party’s conference in Glasgow, delegates voted overwhelmingly

Posted in LDV Members poll | 10 Comments

Opinion: Ten reasons why the bedroom tax must go

The conference amendments can only be an expedient stop-gap to complete repeal. Here are ten reasons why the bedroom tax (also known as the spare room subsidy) should go.

1. Bedroom Tax is targeted to victimise the most vulnerable members of society. Two thirds of the victims of Bedroom Tax were receiving Incapacity Benefit: over 440,000 nationally.

2. An extra bedroom is not an extravagance if you need additional space for medical equipment, a room for carers to sleep in or live in a household where an ill person is too unwell to sleep in the same room as their partner and to do so would negatively affect the health and wellbeing of both.

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Lord German writes… Monitoring the removal of the spare room subsidy

Like many people reading the front page of the Guardian this morning, I was worried by the headline on the pronouncements by the UN special rapporteur on the removal of the spare room subsidy. But it is important to look behind the headline to see that these comments were based on a very brief visit from this adviser, who did not have the time for a detailed discussion with the Department for Work and Pensions to understand the policy. If she had done she would have been able to understand that this policy brings the rules for the social …

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Opinion: Let’s have some facts on the ‘bedroom tax’

One of the ‘facts’ about the ‘bedroom tax’ which is becoming increasing accepted is that 9 out of 10 disabled people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ and refused a discretionary payment are going without food.

There is a rather good graphic, much shared, on Facebook illustrating this and it has been added to the Labour rhetoric of the all round wickedness of the Coalition.

Posted in Op-eds | 47 Comments

Letter to Nick Clegg – Secret courts and bedroom tax

Dear Nick,
Following the vote in Parliament last night the Prime Minister demonstrated how to graciously step back from a position and accept the will of our democratically elected representatives that Britain should not engage in the folly of military intervention in Syria.To step back, accept that you have lost the vote, and so quickly return to the task that parliament has set is not in my view a sign of weakness, it is a clear sign of strength and dignity that will serve the Prime Minister well.

At our Spring conference this year you faced two major votes where you disagreed

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Lib Dems secure £35 million extra funds to help those affected by Bedroom Tax

The arguments over the so-called Bedroom Tax have been rehearsed on this site on many occasions and it’s been in the news today, with the judgement that it does not discriminate against disabled people.

The Department of Work and Pensions has separately announced extra money to help those worst affected. This will be given to Councils to give to those most in need. I understand that ministers did consider further exemptions but felt that it was fairer to allow councils to make the decisions because they were dealing directly with the tenants concerned and knew more about their circumstances.

The extra …

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Lessons of Coalition: what do the Lib Dems need to learn from the first 3 years?

ldv coalition lessonsWe’re more than three years in. What started in the Rose Garden has turned into a bed of thorns. The quieter summer weeks are as good a time as any to reflect on the key lessons the Lib Dems need to learn from this stint in government. Who knows? We may have a second chance after 2015: best to plan ahead now to avoid the obvious pitfalls we fell into this time (tuition fees, NHS Bill, secret courts) as well as to max-out the successes we’ve delivered (tax-cuts for the low-paid, the ‘pupil premium’, new apprenticeships).

Over the next few days, we’ll be running a daily feature, ‘Lessons of Coalition’ to which those of us who contribute to LibDemVoce will be adding. But we welcome reader contributions as well. The word limit is no more than 450 words, and please focus on just one lesson you think the party needs to learn. Simply email your submission to [email protected] Here’s mine for starters…

Stronger policy development and campaigning on issues that matter to the public (AKA where’s our liberal equivalent of the benefits cap?)

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Well done, Ed Balls. He’s opened up space for a proper welfare debate. Lib Dems now need to claim that space.

Ed Balls has done us all a favour. His announcement last week that if he were Chancellor he would put a stop to winter fuel allowances for well-off pensioners means Labour has joined the Lib Dems in saying we need to focus the welfare budget where it’s needed most, not keep on re-distributing from the worse off to the better off in the name of universalism. It’s why I chose him as my 38th Liberal Hero.

And yesterday he was at it again, highlighting quite how much of the welfare budget the state pension represents — some £74 …

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LibLink… Danny Alexander: Coalition tackling housing crisis

Danny Alexander writes in today’s Scotsman about the benefit reduction which has become colloquially known as the Bedroom Tax.

He argues that the Coalition had to take action after Labour mismanagement and failure to build houses:

However, they may not know that Labour also left a legacy whereby hundreds of thousands of families in Scotland are waiting for a house that is big enough for their family to live in. The government has a responsibility to make sure that we change housing benefit rules in a careful, sensitive and managed way. But we also have a responsibility to those families.

Housing benefit is

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Margaret Thatcher, the 1983 election and the ‘bedroom tax’

margaret-thatcherLike Caron, I spent more than a healthy amount of my Bank Holiday Monday watching BBC Parliament’s re-run of the 1983 general election.

It’s not an election I remember (I was 6). But the symmetry of yesterday’s hyperbolic Guardian (‘The day Britain changed’) front page and the televised reminder of Margaret Thatcher’s first landslide seemed calculated to confirm the left’s view that 1st April 2013 marked the ultimate victory of those on the right who wanted (and still want) to destruct the welfare state.

What Mrs T, Geoffrey Howe …

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  • User AvatarJoe Otten 19th Dec - 11:05pm
    A good and important article. The distant grand plan is a poor excuse for opposing reforms that are achievable quickly, and a tinkering agenda is...
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    @Peter. "As Russia’s economy starts to collapse due to low oil prices." This sort of thinking - the idea that possession of real resources is...
  • User AvatarJoe Otten 19th Dec - 10:18pm
    g, the public health angle here is the reduction in smoking. Reduction in nicotine use is relatively insignificant by comparison. Stuart, vaping has been banned...
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    I don't really see the benefit over a sensible system of tapered benefits. What's the big win here? Against that you set the inability of...
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    History suggests that we should never believe that the Tory's will be happy to consider constitutional change but will only change when it becomes a...
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    In a world without a society, we must all work to survive. We must all, individually, till the ground and hunt the rabbit. Working to...
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