The Labour Party has accused the Liberal Democrats of ‘unbelievable hypocrisy’ over its change in stance on the bedroom tax.
The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that the Lib Dems no longer support the policy in its current form and now want an exemption for disabled people and for housing benefit to only be cut if households refuse an offer to move.
The proposals are now expected to be part of the party’s 2015 election manifesto.
The chief secretary to the treasure, Danny Alexander, wrote in the Mirror yesterday that, following the publication of a damning report by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), It’s clearly time to take stock and change our approach in this particular area.’
Figures in the DWP report showed nearly 60% of the 550,000 tenants affected were in rent arrears and only one in 20 had been able to move to a smaller home.
Rachel Reeves, Labour shadow work and pensions secretary (pictured, left), said: ‘This is unbelievable hypocrisy from Nick Clegg. The Lib Dems voted for the bedroom tax. There wouldn’t be a bedroom tax if it wasn’t for the Lib Dems. And in February when Labour tabled a bill to scrap the bedroom tax, the Lib Dems were nowhere to be seen. This just goes to show why you can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say - it is clear the only way to cancel the bedroom tax is to elect a Labour government next year.’
Previously at their autumn conference the Lib Dems voted to review the tax. Tim Farron, president, said in April that he was withdrawing his party’s support for the measure on the grounds that it had caused ‘huge social problems’.
In his article for the Mirror, Mr Alexander wrote: ‘The Liberal Democrats will make the case for these new, fairer rules, seeking to get them in place during this parliament. If we can’t convince our Conservative coalition partners, we will commit to these reforms in our 2015 manifesto.
‘I want everyone to have the chance to live securely in a decent home. That’s why I’ve driven through measures that will deliver record numbers of affordable homes to help tackle the root cause of our housing problem, lack of supply. And it’s why our manifesto will set out plans to go further and deliver 300,000 new homes a year.’