Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps attacked for using his own children in 'bedroom tax' row

 

Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps provoked scorn from Government critics today by using his own children’s living arrangements in an attempt to justify the controversial “bedroom tax”.

Mr Shapps said housing benefit claimants should not mind giving up spare bedrooms because his two sons share a room. He also has a young daughter. But it subsequently emerged the millionaire former housing minister’s children could have their own space if one of the four bedrooms in the family home hadn’t been converted into a study.

The bedroom tax, which comes into force tomorrow, penalises tenants in social housing who have a spare room by reducing their housing benefit. Under the government’s rules young children are expected to share a room.

In his bullish defence of the policy, Mr Shapps also attacked four churches who criticised the package of welfare measures as unjust. He told Sky News: “It is wrong to leave people out in the cold with effectively no roof over their heads because the taxpayer is paying for rooms which aren’t in use. People share rooms quite commonly – my boys share a room.”

But immediately after his comments Sky News’s political producer Vincent McAviney revealed that Shapps lives in a four-bedroomed house in his Welwyn Hatfield constituency.

“@grantshapps has told me that his home has 4 bedrooms with one being used as a study, ergo his children do not have to share room,” he tweeted. Attempts to contact Mr Shapps were unsuccessful this evening.

Critics of the bedroom tax argue that while it is reasonable to expect young children to share it is more difficult for teenagers, especially of opposite gender, and that moving young children stores up trouble for the future. Mr Shapps, who earns £65,738 as an MP, has three children. His eldest son was born in 2001 and his twin son and daughter were born in 2004.

Mr Shapps’ attempts to compare his family situation to those of people affected by the bedroom tax was today mocked by opponents, with many pointing out that his arrangements were by choice, and easily changed when his children grow older. Brett Sparkes, of the union Unite said: “Grant Shapps is living in private accommodation which he owns so therefore the lack of social housing bears no resemblance to his situation.”

Reverend Paul Nicolson of the Taxpayers Against Poverty campaign group said: “What is being created by these reforms is debt and poverty of people who are already in debt and poverty. Having a four-bedroomed house is no platform for criticising people on benefits.”

The comedian Josie Long tweeted: “Grant Shapps’ children share a bedroom because he needs all of the other rooms for his online aliases” – referring to an online business venture he founded under the name Michael Green.

Mr Shapps also hit back after four churches – the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist and United Reformed Churches and Church of Scotland – criticised the welfare reforms unjust. “Where were these people jumping up and down as those housing waiting lists doubled under the previous administration?” he asked on BBC Radio 4’s The World  This Weekend.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin