An attempt to scrap the controversial bedroom tax has been foiled after Liberal Democrat MPs failed to vote against the policy. The Government defeated a Labour motion to abolish what Iain Duncan Smith prefers to call the "spare room subsidy" by a reduced majority of 32, winning the vote 298 to 266.
The Liberal Democrats were accused of betraying their members after pledging earlier this year to abolish the policy which penalises housing benefit recipients seen to have a spare bedroom. Campaigners say the welfare reform has pushed many families into poverty, often because there is no smaller property for them to move to.
In a debate over the motion, Labour's Geraint Davies accused the Tories of “ripping food out of the mouths of the poorest” and forcing people to rely on food banks.
Eilidh Whiteford, an SNP MP for Banff Buchan, said the Government was “scapegoating” the most vulnerable for the problems in housing and that disabled people were on the “front line of the austerity cuts”.
Lib Dems: policy focus
Lib Dems: policy focus
1/6 GEOFF PAYNE English Party representative, Federal Policy Committee
“The Tories have been seen over the last week for the nasty party that they are. I would go on the offensive to justify our record and ruthlessly exploit those differences over things like the benefit cap and scrapping the Human Rights Act.”
2/6 GARETH EPPS Co-chair, Social Liberal Forum
“We need to make it clear that we’re not in it for our mates, like the Tories. Some of the successes, like shared parental leave, would never have been there with only the Tories.”
3/6 DAISY COOPER Candidate, party president
“A lot of people do know that raising the tax threshold is a Liberal Democrat policy. We just need to keep telling the public that.”
4/6 JOHN PUGH Southport MP, rebelled against leadership on tuition fees
“We need to say that issues of social inequality and justice are equal priorities to economics. We must return to a traditional funding of the NHS.”
5/6 LORELY BURT Solihull MP, former deputy leadership candidate
“It does seem that we’ve been the repository of all the best ideas and that nice Mr Cameron has pinched our income tax policy and Labour the mansion tax policy.”
6/6 BARONESS PARMINTER Former chief executive, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England
“We have got to be very clear where we have stopped the Tories implementing changes that would have been detrimental to the environment.”
Work and Pensions Minister Mark Harper said: “Today of all days, Labour would rather talk about anything but the positive jobs figures we are seeking - more people in work than ever before, up 590,000 on the year, and up 1.7 million since 2010.
“Labour have chosen their Opposition Day to have a debate that is contrived to scare people instead of welcoming the record employment figures.”Reuse content