Labour Party attacks bedroom tax

The coalition government’s bedroom tax is ‘perverse’ the shadow employment minister has said.

Labour’s Stephen Timms, speaking on Radio 4 yesterday, criticised the controversial policy, under which benefit claimants in social housing of working age with spare rooms will have their benefit cut from 1 April.

Mr Timms said: ‘We have argued for the last two years that it would be fine to apply the penalty where people have refused to take smaller accommodation, but to penalise people when there’s nowhere smaller to move to is perverse.’

Mr Timms used the example of Hull, which he says has 4,700 people affected but only 73 smaller properties for people to downsize into, to illustrate that in some parts of the country people won’t be able to move to smaller homes.

Conservative party chairman and former housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘Labour have very cleverly deemed this to be a tax; of course it’s exactly the opposite to a tax.

‘It is a spare-rooms subsidy, that’s being paid through the benefits system, on a million empty bedrooms in this country, which makes no sense.’

Mr Shapps added: ‘What we can’t continue to do, and we can’t afford to do, is pay for a million empty rooms whilst we’ve got a waiting list that doubled under the previous administration and with so many people in desperate need of a house at all.’