Local campaigner Ann Holtom has strongly welcomed the announcement by Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP, that the party is now committed to a substantial reform of the spare room subsidy, the so-called bedroom tax. In October last year Ann took her fight to the West Midlands regional conference and won support of delegates for the abolition of bedroom tax as official Lib Dem policy by the time of the next general election.
The plans now announced by Danny Alexander 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. It comes after a government report published this week showed changes to how housing benefit is paid are not delivering the outcomes we had hoped despite Discretionary Housing Payments.
The report echoes many of the points made by Ann in her speech to conference last year when she argued that there was no evidence the bedrrom tax had made any major difference to current housing problems, that it victimised the most vulnerable members of society and was unfair as it removed benefits when it is impossible for tenants to move due to a shortage of smaller locally available homes.
Ann said: "I am delighted that the Liberal Democrats have substantially reviewed their position on this unpopular and ineffective housing policy. When these changes are implemented the bedroom tax as introduced will be so transformed to be as good as abolished. It is good news that what I have been fighting for locally will become Lib Dem manifesto commitments and more importantly that the party is committed to pushing for it as government policy right away. This change, combined with a commitment to build 300,000 houses a year in the next Parliament, will build on the progress Liberal Democrats in government have already made to address Britain's housing problem.