Tuesday, 03 March 2015

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’.

Readers' comments (42)

  • michael barratt

    The vulnerable and economic battlers know this Government are content to wage war on the poor they have now discovered it is pointless to expect any better from New Labour. They talk the talk but do not walk the walk and come out and unreservedly state they would abolish the bedroom tax is they won the next election.

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  • If our imbecilic government spent this £5bn on building new houses in places of acute housing shortage, the extra supply would dampen rents and bring down housing benefit, which is what Smith and Freud claim they want. But of course the motivation for the bedroom tax is not finance at all, but spite, and as long as we have a government with such antipathy towards social housing and the people who live in it, we have no hope of reversing this absurd policy.

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  • Christopher Dale

    Whilst I think IDS is clearly on a different planet and should be publicly flogged for the mess he and Lord Freud are making of welfare reform I do have to agree with his rebuttal to Mr Byrne. If Labour had any pretence left at all of helping the poor, they would pledge to abolish this nasty, punitive excuse of a reform. He can't disagree with it all that much if his party won't commit to getting rid of it.

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  • There are hordes of people who have never worked in their lives, more often than not they live in social housing where the rent is paid by the rest of us.

    Building more 3 bed social housing won't make the problem go away.

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  • Nobody should be under anh illusions - if Labour win the next election, they will retain the bedroom tax alongside all the other policies of this government (including the Health and Social Care Act - Miliband wrote with forked tongue in yesterday's Daily Mirror). That is not because ofthe financial issues but because Labour believes in the 'essential rightness' of Conservative policy.

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  • Sad to see that some have fallen for the government's and Daily Mail's rhetoric about the unemployed. "There are hordes of people who have never worked in their lives". And the evidence for this is? - non-existent. Pure, pure fantasy. I've never met anyone who's never worked in their life, let alone a family in which generations have not worked.

    And, for the record, unemployment benefit - the dole - makes up 2.5% of the welfare bill, and the welfare bill is 25% of government spending. If everyone on the dole disappeared overnight and the government gave all the money back to taxpayers in income tax cuts, they wouldn't even notice the change. Yet people are obsessed with the benefit. Why? Because it constitutes 90% of Tory rhetoric despite being utterly insignificant in monetary terms because it's good politics and the electorate are gullible enough to fall for the unemployed as the cause of all their ills.

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  • Joe Halewood

    IDS with barefaced lies to parliament again and Liam Byrne being as spineless as ever!

    1. The HB bill rose by 77% from 1997 to 2010 so it could not have doubled in ten years under Labour

    2. In the ten years from 1987 to 1997 under the Tories the HB bill rose by 320%!

    Clearly Liam Byrne doesn't know his brief as he would have been able to correct IDS and his wild exaggerations. As he would also have been able to state that IDS and the coalition in June 2010 said they will cut the then £20.8bn HB bill by £2bn yet it has increased by £3bn and is therefore £5bn over their own set target.

    As for repealing the bedroom tax, spineless

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  • Melvin Bone

    Labour are really lacking any backbone at the moment.

    The only thing they seem to promise is that borrowing will increase when they get in...

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  • IDS's premature claim of success for the Bedroom Tax is a change for the Coalition Govt. Until now it has ignored evidence on many policies - now it doesn't even wait for any evidence to emerge.

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  • I haven't read the full IDS info, but I think you guys are being a bit harsh on him. He seems to be saying the bedroom tax is a success, he doesn't say what it's succeeding in doing...

    As for Labours retorts, pathetic. So you won't repeal these changes, and instead try to rally people round the tired mantra of taxing the rich more in their mansions. So we go from blaming everything on the poor under the tories to blaming it all on the rich under labour.

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