MP Grant Shapps defends ‘appalling’ ‘bedroom tax’ gaffe
PUBLISHED: 16:36 02 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:36 02 April 2013
WELWYN Hatfield’s MP let slip an apparent gaffe as he defended the Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ – using his living arrangements to justify a benefit cut that will hit social housing tenants.
In a television interview, Grant Shapps said housing benefit claimants should not mind giving up spare bedrooms, and said his two sons shared a room.
But it emerged the party chairman’s children could have their own space if one of the four bedrooms in the family home had not been converted into a study.
The changes will penalise social housing tenants with a reduction in their housing benefit if they have a spare room. Under the rules young children are expected to share.
Opposition Labour campaigners descended on the capital on Saturday to protest.
Speaking to the WHT Mr Shapps said: “The housing waiting lists doubled under the previous government and up to 4,000 people are on the waiting list in Welwyn Hatfield alone.
“So it obviously makes sense to use the homes we have available as best as possible. This means that the most vulnerable people – those without any roof over their head – can be looked after, which I think is very important.
“As an aside I happened to mention that like lots of other local families my kids share a bedroom. Since we are homeowners and not in receipt of housing benefit that’s where the comparison ends.”
But describing the comments as “grotesque”, Labour group leader Kieran Thorpe said: “I was appalled but not surprised to see our MP on Sunday telling the poorest people in the UK from the comfort of his own home how much better off they will be after this month’s shocking welfare cuts.”
Welwyn Hatfield Council says more than 1,200 people will lose up to £1,040 a year in benefit payments.
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