Nick Clegg faces activist revolt over ending bedroom tax

Next month's party conference in Glasgow set to be a minefield

Political Editor

Nick Clegg is facing a rebellion by grassroots Liberal Democrats who are demanding that he pledges to abolish the so-called bedroom tax.

Activists have tabled a motion for the party’s Glasgow conference next month attacking the Coalition’s policy on welfare and demanding a new approach in the Lib Dem manifesto at next year’s general election.

Mr Clegg could be defeated over the Government’s decision to end the spare room subsidy for tenants in social housing. That could pave the way for a Lib Dem manifesto pledge to abolish the bedroom tax – as Labour has already promised.

Today, the Deputy Prime Minister was ambushed by a nine-year-old boy during his weekly phone-in on LBC radio. Rohan left Mr Clegg on the ropes over his flagship policy to provide free school meals for all five to seven year-olds. He complained that his own school meals were "unhealthy", saying “the evidence shows they don't make children achieve or behave better”.

With a hint of desperation, Mr Clegg suggested: "You probably need to go back to class." He insisted: "The evidence shows that it is in fact extremely helpful.”

The Lib Dem leader believes that some action must be taken about the underuse of public housing, because there are 1m families on the waiting list. Inside the Coalition, he has pressed for disabled people to be exempt from the bedroom tax and for housing benefit not to be withdrawn until families have turned down an offer of smaller accommodation. But he has failed to persuade Conservative ministers to act.

Kelly-Marie Blundell, a prospective Lib Dem candidate in Guildford and a co-author of the conference motion on welfare, said: “The Lib Dems are the forefathers of the welfare state, and so should lead the way on reforming a system that has become unrecognisable. The Conservative-driven agenda for benefit sanctions has resulted in the unacceptable - people being left without food or shelter. We need to stand up and make sure this doesn't happen. Tackling this is twofold; reviewing sanctions and changing hardship payments to make sure no person is without basic provisions.”

Gareth Epps, co-chairman of the Social Liberal Forum pressure group, said: “No amount of reform will make the bedroom tax palatable, so it needs to be scrapped. If the Lib Dem leadership in 2015 needs to demonstrate one value, it is compassion. Years of painstakingly not opposing what some of them privately describe as appalling, regressive policy have left electoral scars.”

The grassroots motion calls for a review of Universal Credit, which will merge six working-age benefits into one; immediate loans to be made available to people hit by benefit sanctions and for such cuts in benefits to be used only as a last resort.

Mr Clegg is backing a Private Member’s Bill introduced by the Lib Dem MP Andrew George. It would exclude from the bedroom tax people who have lived at an address for more than three years and whose homes have been adapted for the disabled. The Bill will be debated in the Commons tomorrow.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture