Duncan Smith mocks Labour bedroom tax figures
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Bill Payments, Housing
Duncan Smith mocks Labour bedroom tax loophole figures
More than 21,500 people have now been identified as wrongly paying the bedroom tax according to figures obtained by the Labour Party.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said the data, revealed yesterday, had been obtained from 194 local authorities responding to a freedom of information request.
The DWP recently moved to correct a mistake in the original bedroom tax legislation that meant social housing tenants who have been continuously claiming housing benefit from before January 1996 while living in the same property were immune from the charge.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith was his usual dismissive self in responding to Labour's claims saying he did not recognise the figure and stood by his department's orginal estimate of 5,000.
He told the Commons: "I know that the hon. ady and her team have made a freedom of information request, but the key thing is that the information we have is based on all the local authorities’ evidence to us, and I do not believe that her evidence is in any way accurate."
Rachel Reeves replied: "Yes, we have put in a freedom of information request, because we did not think that the secretary of state’s numbers were correct, and, as it turns out, they are not. The FOI request shows that with 194 out of 346 councils having responded so far, a staggering 21,500 people have been wrongly paying the bedroom tax, including 4,198 in Tory local authorities, so perhaps they have got their numbers wrong too. There are 275 in Tory Chester, 200 in Tory Peterborough..."
Iain Duncan Smith responded: "Yet again we hear from the hon. lady a complete failure to mention the fact that in all her government’s time in power, they did nothing for those who lived in overcrowded accommodation.
"A quarter of a million people were left to us who suffer every day because they cannot get the right rooms. One million people were left on the waiting list, and the house building programme fell to its lowest point since the 1920s.
"There is only one answer to her: sorting this out is the right thing to do, and shame on a government who did nothing for those in greatest difficulty."