Liberal Democrat delegates have voted against pledging to scrap the hated ‘bedroom tax’ at their party conference in Glasgow.
Members of the party voted against an amendment to a motion calling for the ‘bedroom tax’ to be scrapped for both private sector tenants and those living in social housing.
However, the party agreed that the damaging policy should not be applied against social housing tenants unless they refuse an offer of a smaller property. Delegates also agreed that some disabled people should be exempt.
The ‘bedroom tax’, or ‘spare room subsidy’, came into force in April 2013 and places a requirement on households under-occupying their home to contribute toward their rent through a deduction in housing benefit, or downsize to a smaller property.
Lord Mike German, co-chair of the work and pensions select committee, said:
“The biggest problem with this amendment is that it attaches the private sector to the social housing sector.
“If private sector landlords were faced with the prospect of making an alternative offer of accommodation to tenants if their circumstances changed, they would be very reluctant to take on these tenants.”
A nationwide shortage of one and two-bedroom social homes means that many of those affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ have no option other than to pay up.
Disability rights campaigners argue that disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the housing policy. Around three-quarters of all affected households include a person who is disabled. Many of those people will be living in specially adapted homes. If asked to move to a smaller property they will require their new home to be adapted for their needs, at extra cost to local authorities.
Despite being well received by many of the delegates at the Lib Dem party conference, members overwhelmingly voted against including a pledge to scrap the ‘bedroom tax’ – for private sector and social housing tenants – in their 2015 general election manifesto.