Is this confirmation that Labour plans to abolish the Bedroom Tax?

September 6, 2013 7:36 am

There has been much debate recently over whether Labour would abolish the Bedroom Tax if the party wins the next General Election. But it now seems that the party is about to make such a commitment. Last weekend the Sunday People reported a Senior Labour Source saying:

“Labour WILL repeal the Bedroom Tax. The only question remaining is when. But the sooner it’s ­buried, the better. It’s not just cruel and inhumane in impact but it’s ­turning out to be the economics of the madhouse.”

Now Anas Sarwar – Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader – appears to have gone further, telling STV that a future Labour government would abolish the Bedroom Tax. Sarwar said:

“If we had a UK Labour government, we wouldn’t have the bedroom tax because we wouldn’t have introduced it. If we had a Scottish Labour government, we would have mitigation of the bedroom tax, so we wouldn’t have the impact.”

“We have been clear. If we were in power tomorrow, we would abolish the bedroom tax.”

Whilst that’s still carefully worded (“if we were in power tomorrow” rather than “when we’re in power”), it’s perhaps the closest a senior Labour politician has come to confirming that Labour will seek to repeal the bedroom tax. If the party is committed to abolishing it, then such a pledge would likely come at Labour conference in two weeks time.

  • BillFrancisOConnor

    Terrific news. This iniquitous tax needs to be confined to the dustbin.
    Perhaps we could cover the cost of its abolition by raising the top rate of tax back up to 50p?

    • Rosie2

      Liam Bryne has spent the summer obtaining FOI from LA’s to prove the bedroom tax is costing more than it saves and can therefore be scrapped at no cost, and indeed will make savings. So no need to raise tax to cover it.

      “An estimated 238,266 households have been hit by the housing benefit cut for people judged to have a spare room, according to 95 councils in England, Scotland and Wales which have provided data in response to Freedom of Information requests (FOI) from Labour.”

    • David Battley

      Do not estimate the political difficulties in reversing this policy: portraying it as an unfair tax has been a successful policy for the PLP which has some resonance with the wider public.

      However this only plays out as far as talking about it, because the action of “repealing” it works against us equally hard since it will be presented in some sections of the media as a “spare bedroom subsidy for those who don’t work, paid by those who do”, which will work strongly against the party on the key battleground territories of welfare and economic credibility.

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        I don’t care how difficult it is we should get rid of it. It is punitive and attacks those who can least afford it.

        • GnosticBrian

          And will you give the spare room subsidy to tenants of private Landlords, and if not, why not?

        • Riesler

          You mean those with big enough houses that they have spare rooms?

      • FMcGonigal

        “for those who don’t work, paid by those who do”

        This is incorrect as it also applies to working people who are on housing benefit. But I agree it is how it will be presented in some sections of the media.

        • David Battley


      • althejazz

        That’s on;y if people still believe the tories’ lies.

      • David Parker

        This illustrates precisely why the Labour Party is struggling to achieve an absolutely decisive lead over a conservative party which is deeply unpopular. Less time should be spent worrying about what the Tory press will say and more in projecting an unambiguous vision of a Labour Britain and the principles which will underpin future policy. Take the Tory Press on.

        • David Battley

          Taking them on is easy; forming a majority government after accepting that you lose some votes as a result of doing so is hard, but this is the age-old question of ideology vs electoral-ability.

          Some might also quote Milton…

          • David Parker

            I don’t actually think it is that easy nor is it a question of ‘ideology vs electoral ability’ . A sustained attack on the assumptions which permeate the Tory media will require more determination, co-ordination and incisiveness than the Shadow Cabinet has displayed collectively thus far. But if done it will gain more voters than it will lose.

      • Paul Atkins

        David B; does labour have a policy on welfare ? I thought they acquiesced this one

    • jp99

      It is not a tax -there is no need to lie, whether or not you approve of it. How does that help. It is a subsidy by other taxpayers that is being removed.

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        Private activity on contributor’s record, false name, ‘my telegraph’ home blog, the bedroom tax is a subsidy, 10 likes -enough said?

  • i_bid

    The fact that we’re still awaiting confirmation is an absolute disgrace.

  • alexagiusuk

    Labour to abolish the Bedroom Tax for both social housing and private sectorhousing (which Labour introduced)?

  • charles.ward

    So would it be abolished for private tenants as well?

    • Lynda

      It was introduced for private tenants, as they had a choice of where to live both in area and type of property and to cut HB costs the LHA rates were introduced. A social tenant cannot choose where they live and can only bid on properties the council have assessed them for. There is a lot of misleading information about this floating around.

  • Hugh

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but surely he’s just restating the present Labour position, which is glorious:

    “We oppose the bedroom tax as unfair and economically unviable (because it will cost more than it saves). If we were in power today, therefore, we’d scrap it. However, we need to see the state of the economy nearer the election before we can commit to saying we will definitely scrap it in 2015″ [because we might not be able to afford scrapping something that we argue is costing more than it saves].

    Labour: home of conviction politicians.

    • jp99

      Thank you. No change in how Labour behave then. Conviction politics until it comes to the crunch. I have principles, but I can change them if necessary, as the real Marx said (or words to that effect).


  • Grouchy Oldgit

    The principle that people should not occupy more subsidized housing than they need, especially when many are waiting / trapped in private rentals is right. But it needs to be applied more humanely to individual circumstances.

  • Swiss Bob

    ‘Bedroom Tax’ = Nursery school politics.

  • Paul Atkins

    Is’t the bedroom tax just the tip of the problem. The more visible side to the Welfare destruction.I personally find it amazing that Ian Duncan Smith has been allowed to get this far without so much as a whimper from Labour Party …They do not appear to want to champion this basic ethos of the labour party …in fact I struggle to see what thoughts they have on anything…Against a government that was not voted in Labour up to now is giving a poor showing .

  • DougDaniel

    “If we had a UK Labour government, we wouldn’t have the bedroom tax because we wouldn’t have introduced it.”

    I believe that’s what’s commonly known as “a lie”, and they spill out of Anas Sarwar’s mouth like vomit (especially last night).

    Labour introduced the bedroom tax for private tenants in 2008.

  • rod robertson

    “If we had a UK Labour government, we wouldn’t have the bedroom tax because we wouldn’t have introduced it”

    Oops Anas some bad news for you Labour did introduce Bedroom Tax Mk1 in 2008.
    Your pal Gordon Brown in fact , some more bad news for you Anas , ATOS , Workfare , yup it was Labour too.
    They say the apple never falls far from the tree , in this case it was an apple and a lemon tree and the wind must have been blowing hard

  • Bill Cruickshank

    It would appear that Mr. Miliband is unaware of Mr. Sarwar’s commitment to scrap the Bedroom Tax. A ‘phone call to Mr. Miliband’s office this morning has confirmed that Mr. Miliband has made no such commitment and was unaware of Mr. Sarwar’s comments.
    Time to think again comrades!

  • david kirkup

    if and its a big if, there was an abundance of 1 and 2 bedroom empty homes or similar with people wanting to move to larger homes.then perhaps it would be a good option. but as is the norm with most things the tory/ld parties have done with the lower paid and those least off and on benefits they never seem to look at the bigger picture and the hardship not only on monetary terms, but the need of friends and relations and loved ones, to be living in in close proximity.

  • Redrose82

    Two days ago I watched Prime Ministers Questions. David Cameron asked the two Ed’s if it was Labour’s plan to abolish this policy if they came to power. He couldn’t get an answer so he said I take that as a No then. Neither of them dissented.

  • rod robertson

    “Anas, Malcom Tucker here ,can I have a word …….”

  • george

    not seeing where the money is going to be found for this short of going back to borrowing like there’s no tomorrow. If thats labours new strategy … its going to backfire spectacularly.

  • Roll_On_2014

    Appears that the cat is out of the bag. MP Anas Sarwar, second in command in Scotlanshire has already revealed it on STV:

  • fubar_saunders

    Pardon my language, but its utter bollocks.

    They introduced the damn thing in 2008 to those in the private rented sector in receipt of housing benefit. To say they’re going to can the whole thing in 2015 is just mere flagwaving, playing to the gallery, double-speak, bollocks. Sorry.

    They aint gonna repeal it and you all know it. Its just another way of conning the dumb “vote for a cowpat so long as it had a red rosette on it” plebs out of thier votes by what they figure to be populism.

  • eddie180

    So Labour would reintroduce, as deliberate policy, what came about as an accident – that taxpayers who cannot afford spare bedrooms for their children / grandchildren / carers / guests, will subsidise benefit claimers to have spare bedrooms in their homes?

    It will highlight once again how Labour is not for the worker, but wants a benefit state.

    Beveridge will be turning in his grave at what Labour have done to his Welfare State over the years.

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  • JWil42

    Save us from craven politicians.
    I listened to the Sturgeon/Sarwar debate on STV. Sarwar was almost incomprehensible. Like a chicken getting ready for gutting. I don’t believe he was in any fit state to intentionally make the subtle remark attributed to him above.
    He failed to answer any questions asked of him by his opponent, but just made inane responses.

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  • bugle

    Sorry I think that you have mistaken what happened in 2008. It was said that if you where a NEW applicant wanting housing benefit for a house that is bigger than your needs ( in other words if you where single and wanted a four bedroomed house paid on housing benefit) then this would not be allowed. But that was only for NEW applicants and quite understandable…..


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