The government has fought Labour's challenge to the housing benefit changes in the House of Commons.
MPs voted by a majority of 26 to reject the bedroom tax which removes payments to council tenants' properties that are seen to be ‘under-occupied'. However two Liberal Democrat MPs backed Labour's motions.
The government believes that it will be able to save £500m as a result of the changes. It argues that the policy was introduced to reduce the housing benefit bill and free up homes for families living in overcrowded conditions, reports the BBC.
Whilst in the Commons, Labour's work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves is said to have urged the Liberal Democrats to back her party and vote for the abolition of the benefit changes. She said it was a “shame” Lib Dem Pensions Minister Steve Webb had not listened “to his own party who only in September at the Liberal Democrat party conference voted overwhelmingly against the bedroom tax, saying that it is 'discriminating against the most vulnerable in society'”. Ms Reeves added: “But I am afraid that's what you get with the Liberal Democrats. They say one thing at their conference and when they are out on the doorsteps, but they vote another way in here when it really counts. When they could make a difference, they turn the other way. I say shame on him and shame on his party,” Ms Reeves told MPs.
Mr Webb said: “We need action on overcrowding. We need fairness between social and private tenants. We need action on the deficit. The party opposite has no answer to these problems. The coalition has answered them.”
The government defeated Labour's motion by 26 votes which is less than the usual majorty in Commons votes.
An amendment tabled by Prime Minister David Cameron- which noted the “need to bring expenditure on housing benefit under control” – passed by 253 votes to 222 – a majority of 31.
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