The reviled and dysfunctional Bedroom Tax only exists because Nick Clegg and his colleagues in the Coalition thought it was a good policy. Without their support the policy simply would not exist.
Lib Dem Bedroom tax policy briefing
If Harold Wilson was correct in saying that a week is a long time in politics then ten months must seem like an eternity. That’s how long it is, however, since the following policy briefing was given to LibDem MPs – we presume by Nick Clegg, or at least with his backing – in favour of the Bedroom Tax:
Spare room subsidy: Policy briefing
“From April 2013 the Government introduced a reduction in Housing Benefit for those who are receiving benefit for spare bedrooms in the social rented sector. It is not a tax.
1. The policy is about making better use of social housing
2. Many councils have people on waiting lists or living in overcrowded accommodation while others are funded for spare rooms they don’t need
3. Why should someone who rents a council house get benefit for a spare room when you don’t if you have a private landlord?
4. The policy will also contain the growing Housing Benefit bill for the taxpayer
5. It will also encourage people to look for work.”
[Transcripts: In their own words, Monday 16th September 2013 | 11:44 – Liberal Democrat media advice to MPs] Published at http://www.politicshome.com/uk/article/84896/lib_dem_email_transcript.html%5D
The briefing strongly backed the Bedroom Tax – with facts and figures about underoccupation.
Remember, this was at a time when the evil consequences of the Bedroom Tax were already becoming abundantly clear. Remember also, it was only weeks before Nick Clegg and the LibDems joined with the Tories to defeat Labour’s attempt to get the Bedroom Tax scrapped.
Nick Clegg was still repeating his support for the tax in March of this year.
Indeed he’s strongly defended it on at least 8 occasions. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/17/nick-clegg-bedroom-tax-opposed-defended_n_5594300.html?1405595813
Change of mind?
So what has happened to change his mind?
He and Danny Alexander claim it is as a result of a recent report – which found that the tax was not working as intended.
Well that may be news to the LibDems, but everyone else has known that for over a year now.
In fact this just looks like a pretext.
Could the real reason be the vote on May 22 this year – when the LibDems came close to annihilation in the polls? Faced with electoral defeat – the only thing which seems to concentrate LibDem minds – they’ve been thrashing around ever since to try see how they can salvage themselves, and keep their bums on their seats.
The report has given them a chance to move on this particular toxic issue.
Not that they plan to move all that far. They are far from proposing outright abolition. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/17/nick-clegg-defends-bedroom-tax-policy-shift?CMP=twt_gu
Nick Clegg’s announcement is surely just another sign of the totally unprincipled nature of the LibDem Party. They will change their mind on anything if it looks as if it will win them a vote.
It bears repeating that the Bedroom Tax was only possible because they supported and voted for the Welfare Reform bill in which the Bedroom Tax was a central and controversial part. Our very own Lib Dem Leeds NW MP, Greg Mulholland, followed Clegg and Cameron through the lobbies and voted for it.
Nick Clegg’s change of heart now stinks of hypocrisy.
So what next?
It is absolutely clear that there is only one way to be rid of policies like the Bedroom Tax. That is to fight off another LibDem/Tory Coalition in which the principle-free LibDems hold a balance of power.
The only way forward is for Labour to form majority government at Westminster.
For the sake of those affected by the Bedroom Tax –and for all the other victims of LibDem/Tory policies – that’s what we’ll be working hard to achieve.