Emma challenges Nick Clegg over Lib Dem support for Bedroom Tax

November 18, 2014

131206 - ELB Autumn Statement smallEmma questioned the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to reforming the Bedroom Tax today, as she demanded Nick Clegg explain why his party had failed to support a Labour Bill that would have exempted over 60,000 carers from the tax.

Emma asked the Deputy Prime Minister:

“The Liberal Democrats have said they want to reform the Bedroom Tax, so why did the Deputy Prime Minister and his colleagues not support the Bill brought in by my hon. friend the member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley), which would have exempted 60,000 unpaid carers who are being hit by this unfair policy?”

Mr Clegg said he accepted that “amendments do need to be made” to the Bedroom Tax, but that his party believed parts of the policy should stay in place. He also said that “the Liberal Democrats feel that disabled adults should be treated the same as disabled children”, and so the tax should still apply.

Last month Emma voted for the Carers Bedroom Entitlement (Social Housing Sector) Bill, tabled by the Labour MP Barbara Keeley. The Bill is designed to ensure people who need a spare room in order to care for a disabled relative are not hit by the Bedroom Tax. Over 200 Labour MPs voted in favour of the Bill, but only a handful of Liberal Democrats did so.

The Liberal Democrats voted to introduce the Bedroom Tax in 2012. The policy hits half a million of the poorest households in the country, each of whom loses out on an average of £720 a year. Over two thirds of the people hit by the policy are disabled.

The Lib Dems have since admitted the policy is unfair and have said they will reform it, but unlike Labour they would not abolish the tax altogether. The Labour Leader Ed Miliband has promised that a Labour government in 2015 will repeal the Bedroom Tax.

Emma said:

“Whatever Nick Clegg says about the Bedroom Tax now, people in South Shields will never forget that it was the Lib Dems who allowed the Tories to introduce it in the first place. Now Nick Clegg is supposedly against it, but he won’t even vote to make struggling carers exempt.

“Labour has said all along that the Bedroom Tax was unfair and unworkable. A Labour government in 2015 will scrap this cruel policy entirely.”

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