Nick Clegg orders independent study into Bedroom tax
Research is underway to examine impact of controversial Government policy
Tuesday 15 October 2013
Independent research into the impact of the so-called Bedroom Tax has been ordered by the Government, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today.
Mr Clegg said the study was needed to find out whether tenants could opt to take a smaller house or flat to avoid a deduction in their benefits.
Under the reforms, tenants with one spare bedroom have had a payment reduction of 14 per cent and those deemed to have two or more spare have seen their benefits cut by 25 per cent. For special cases, councils have been handed a discretionary housing fund to help tenants pay their rent.
But Labour claim that because there is a shortage of smaller properties, many tenants cannot downsize and the fund is inadequate.
Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said the shortage in social housing means only one in 25 households affected by the spare room subsidy can actually choose a smaller property without an extra bedroom.
Mr Clegg told the House of Commons today he suspected the problem varied across the country. He said research was now under way to determine the impact of the Government policy.
He said: "Of course, I accept that there will be cases where for some households this change from one system to another creates real dilemmas which need to be addressed through the money we are making available to local authorities.
"To be honest, I have seen lots of widely different figures being cited about the impact of this policy - that is why we are commissioning independent research to exactly understand the impact of this.
"I suspect it varies enormously between one part of the country and another, and one local authority and another. That is why we are trebling, as I say, the resources we are making available to local authorities."
He added that the Government was now providing "hard cash for hard cases". He said: "I am not at all seeking to ignore that there are some individual cases which really do need the flexibility and the money from local authorities so that they can be dealt with."
Mr Clegg's comments came after a question from Ms Harman.
In her question to Mr Clegg in the Commons, she said: "What you don't want to admit, obviously, is that for 96 per cent of tenants there isn't a smaller home to go to and so it is no wonder that the councils are saying that the discretionary housing fund on that basis is completely inadequate to help all the families who can't move and are falling into arrears.
"Will you recognise that this is a cruel and unfair policy that you shouldn't have voted for and will you repeal it now?"
Details of the study's findings will be reported in the autumn. A Government spokesman said: "The Department for Work and Pensions routinely commissions research on their new policies. The Deputy Prime Minister was referring to evaluation work already being carried out by an independent consortium into this policy."
Mr Clegg has not just faced pressure from Labour for supporting the policy. At the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow last month, many activists were angry at the party's support for the spare room subsidy and tabled a motion.
Activist Linda Jack, from Mid Bedfordshire, said she left the conference hall after the debate on the economy "wondering if there was still a place for me in this party".
Highlighting the policy, she added: "All I see is what appears to be an abandonment of our values."
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
Isis executes three gay men by dangling them from top of 100ft building and letting go
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...