IDS is living on a different planit

Duncan Smith accused of ‘living on a different planet’ after hailing success of bedroom tax

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also inHousing

Tuesday 2nd July 2013 – 2:58pm

 

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Duncan Smith accused of 'living on a different planet' after hailing success of bedroom taxDuncan Smith accused of ‘living on a different planet’ after hailing success of bedroom tax

Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of “living on a different planet” after hailing the controversial bedroom tax “a success” in a House of Commons debate.

During an exchange with his Labour counterpart Liam Byrne, the Work and Pensions Secretary said the policy was “shining a light on the previous government’s failure” to address the rising housing benefit bill and tackle overcrowding.

Duncan Smith told fellow MPs: “It is proving a success, because what it is doing is finally shining a light on the previous government’s failure to sort out the mess in social housing, with the housing benefit bill doubling in 10 years and set to rise by another £5 billion.

“I never hear from the right hon. gentleman, or anyone else on the Labour Benches, about their failure, because they left so many people — a quarter of a million — in overcrowded accommodation and a waiting list that had grown to 1.5 million. When he gets up, perhaps he would like to tell us: is he going to reverse this policy or not?”

Liam Byrne replied: “If the Secretary of State thinks that the bedroom tax has been a success, he is living on a different planet. Back in 2011 the pensions minister told the House that the bedroom tax would solve overcrowding, but (we hear) on the BBC that there are houses lying empty from Teesside to Merseyside. They are not overcrowded; they are empty.

“Councils up and down the country are saying that arrears are up by 300%, and military families are saying that they have been lied to and cheated. When is the Secretary of State going to realise that this policy costs more than it saves and that this government should be taxing mansions, not bedrooms?”

In reply, Duncan Smith said: “Let me tell the right hon. gentleman something about empty homes. The previous government left a huge amount of empty homes when they left office.

“There are now around 710,000 empty homes, which is 73,000 below the peak in 2008, which was under them. There are now 259,000 long-term empty homes, which is down 20,000 since they left office.

“The reality is this: the Labour party left a shambles, and never once did the people living in overcrowded accommodation hear anything from the Labour party about them. They are having to suffer while we subsidise to nearly £1 billion people living in houses with spare rooms. Perhaps he can say whether he, if he ever got into office again, would reverse that. Why does he not stop moaning about it?”

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