Tuesday, 06 December 2016

IDS claims bedroom tax is 'a success'

The shadow work and pensions secretary said the government should be ‘taxing mansions not bedrooms’ in a heated exchange with Iain Duncan Smith in the House of Commons this week.

The two opposite numbers clashed during work and pensions questions on Monday over the bedroom tax when Labour’s Liam Byrne asked work and pensions secretary Mr Duncan Smith if he thought the bedroom tax was ‘proving a runaway success’.

The work and pensions secretary said: ‘It is providing a success… finally drawing a light on the failure of the last government to sort out the mess that was in social housing.’

Mr Byrne said houses were ‘lying empty from Teeside to Merseyside [and] councils up and down the country are saying arrears are up 300 per cent’.

He said if Mr Duncan Smith thought the bedroom tax was a success he was ‘living in a different planet’. ‘This government should be taxing mansions not bedrooms,’ Mr Byrne told the House.

The bedroom tax, or under-occupancy penalty, means housing benefit is cut for social tenants who are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.

Mr Duncan Smith said the last Labour government had left a ‘housing benefit bill that doubled in 10 years and was set to rise by another £5 billion’. The Conservatives inherited a quarter of a million people in overcrowded accommodation and waiting lists up to 1.5 million, he told the House of Commons.

He also asked Mr Byrne twice if he would reverse the policy – which the shadow work and pensions secretary did not answer. Mr Duncan Smith finished by saying if Mr Byrne was not going to reverse the policy why didn’t he ‘stop moaning about it’.

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