Clegg’s housing headache

A lib dem rebellion on housing benefit proposals is brewing - with both Bob Russell MP and Simon Hughes leading the charge.

No rest for the wicked it seems as another storm brews along the corridors of Westminster, just in time to add another jab of pain to Nick Clegg’s tuition fees headache.

According to Inside Housing, a rebellion from his party’s backbenchers and peers is on the horizon. This time dissent is focused on Housing Benefit reform despite the delay to some of the measures announced this week. The paper reports:

“The government’s concessions follow intense lobbying from backbenchers and housing organisations. But Liberal Democrat MPs said they will maintain their resistance.

“Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, told Inside Housing there was still ‘no way’ he could support the cuts. Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes continues to lobby ministers to drop the 10 per cent cut for long-term claimants of jobseeker’s allowance. Lib Dem peers are focusing their efforts on blocking this cut as well.”

Earlier this week, the government announced new proposals to delay reforms to local housing allowance (in the amount of rent paid per bedroom and the way the benefit is calculated). The changes will be implemented in April 2011 for new claimants but existing claimants will be given a reprievechanges for their rates will now not take place until January 2012 avoiding the issue becoming a hot topic at local elections.

The coalition’s welfare reform policy is shaping out to be predictably Tory – based on the premise that the main reason for long-term unemployment is overly generous benefits and so the solution is to cut them. Despite an attempt to detoxify the party a la IDS and his much touted universal credit, there really is no doubt in where the Tories stand when it comes to cutting benefits – the question is, where do the Lib Dems?

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.