Coalition to discuss housing benefits in House of Commons

  • The Lib Dems and Conservatives will meet in the House of Commons later over a bid to ease housing benefit changes.

    Lib Dem MP Andrew George wants more people to be exempt from the bedroom tax and Nick Clegg has ordered his MPs to back Mr George's bill. The Tories however have been ordered to vote against the bill today, reports the BBC./images/blog/disabledhome.jpg

    If Mr George's bill is successful people who could not be found a smaller home would be exempt from housing benefit changes. People with disabilities in need of a spare bedroom would also be exempt.

    Earlier this week, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said her party had decided to get behind Mr George's bill after initially denouncing the "hypocrisy" of the Lib Dems for attacking a policy which they had voted for.

    In July, Lib Dem cabinet minister Danny Alexander said his party would "make the case for these new fairer rules" in government, adding: "If we cannot convince our Conservative coalition partners, we will commit to these reforms in the our 2015 Liberal Democrat manifesto."

    But the Conservatives accused their coalition partners of a "cynical PR stunt" and insisted the changes were working and were bringing "the bloated Housing Benefit bill under control".

    A senior Lib Dem source said: "The Liberal Democrats will definitely be voting for Andrew George's private member's bill on Friday. It is an excellent articulation of our policy which will help build a stronger economy in a fairer society. The Liberal Democrats believe people already in the social rented sector should only see a reduction in their benefit if they turn down suitable smaller homes. That is a workable policy to help tackle the chronic shortage in social housing in Britain, which is why we are calling on MPs from all parties to support the bill."

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