MP wants changes to 'bedroom tax'

Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton has welcomed the news that the Liberal Democrats plan to significantly reform spare room subsidy rules, or the 'bedroom tax' as it's commonly known.

The proposals come following a report by the Work and Pensions Select Committee which asked for major reforms.

As a member of the influential committee, Mr Thornton made it clear last April that these reforms should be implemented as soon as possible.

The Lib Dem plans will see those already in the social rented sector only lose their benefit if they are offered a suitable smaller home and turn it down.

It would also permanently exempt disabled adults.

The proposed reform comes after a government report published this week showed changes to how housing benefit is paid are not delivering the outcomes hoped for despite Discretionary Housing Payments.

In the original report, the all-party Work and Pensions Committee ruled that the Government's housing welfare reforms, including the 'bedroom tax', were causing financial hardship to vulnerable people who were not the intended targets of the reforms and are unlikely to be able to change their circumstances in response.

Commenting Work and Pensions Committee member Mike Thornton MP said:

“I'm delighted that the Liberal Democrats have listened to the evidence and are fighting for a fairer system. It's fantastic that these commitments will be in the Lib Dem manifesto, and we will be pressing for government policy to change as a result.

"The Conservatives should do the right thing and accept that the reforms need revisiting.

“The changes to how housing benefit is calculated in the social housing sector was brought in with good intentions - but it is clear that it's not working, and vulnerable people are being unfairly penalised by the changes.

“The report that I and my colleagues on the Work and Pensions Committee published in April clearly showed there were significant problems with the reforms, particularly the impact on people with disabilities who have adapted homes or need a room to hold medical equipment or to accommodate a carer.

"When people are having to cut back on household essentials despite the help offered through Discretionary Housing Payments, it shows why things need to be looked at again."

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