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15.12.11

Welfare reform cuts defeated in the Lords

Social housing benefit cuts have been defeated by the House of Lords in a welfare reform vote.

The Government’s proposal was that people with one spare bedroom should lose £12 per week, while those with two or more spare rooms should lose £22 a week.

But peers voted 258 to 190 to limit the penalties to only people with two or more spare bedrooms. As well as all the cross-benchers, 13 Liberal Democrats and one Conservative peer voted against the Government.

The Government argued that its measures are essential to reduce housing benefit expenditure.

Lord Freud, welfare minister, told peers: “We have had to make some hard choices here in order to make the necessary savings as part of the deficit reduction plan.

“The size criteria measure will only affect working-aged housing benefit claimants in the social rented sector who are under-occupying their accommodation.

“In England approximately 420,000 households in the social rented sector under-occupy their accommodation by two bedrooms or more while over a quarter of a million households are overcrowded.”

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