Here’s a copy of an email I sent to residents yesterday, who contacted me regarding the Affordable Homes Bill:
Thank you for your email with regards to the Affordable Homes Bill, put forward by my Lib Dem colleague Andrew George MP.
I will be voting in favour of this Bill tomorrow.
Under-occupancy is a serious problem across the country, caused by a loss of 1.5 million council homes by successive Labour and Tory governments.
Since 2010, the Lib Dems have been working to reverse this decline, overseeing the construction of 170,000 new social and affordable homes.
To tackle the under occupancy issue, the last Labour government introduced a Housing Benefit reduction (or ‘bedroom tax’) for those with a spare bedroom in the private rented sector, which was then matched in 2013 for those in social housing.
My Lib Dem colleagues and I argued for significant changes to make the new policy fairer – and we secured a £25 million fund for Discretionary Housing Payments, £5 million for foster carers, and exemptions for the elderly.
But we want to go further, which is why we are supporting Andrew George’s Bill that will change the rules to protect the most vulnerable in society.
The Bill is made of two parts – one is to secure a review of affordable housing by the Secretary of State, and the other would provide three new exemptions to spare bedroom rules.
Proposals mean that there will be no change to a person’s Housing Benefit if:
1) A property has been adapted for a disabled claimant, their partner, or a close relative living with them.
2) The DLA/PIP claimant, their partner, or a close relative living with them has a disability which prevents them from sharing a room.
3) The Local Authority or Housing Association has not made a ‘reasonable offer of alternative accommodation’
This will make the system significantly fairer, which is why I am very pleased to support the Bill tomorrow.