Lib Dem leader apologies for backing Bedroom Tax during coalition

“It was not the right policy and we should have stopped it. And our manifesto makes clear that that should be scrapped.”

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Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has apologised for backing benefit cuts when the party was in coalition with the Tories.

When asked who voted ‘nine times’ to support the tax, she responded: “Liberal Democrats in government, including myself.”

“It was wrong. I am sorry about that. It was one of the things that we did get wrong.”

Swinson, who was the party’s deputy leader for two years before becoming party leader in July 2019, was a business minister in the Lib Dem-Conservative coalition government.

Just 25 years old when she was first elected to Parliament in 2005, Swinson regained her East Dunbartonshire seat in the 2017 general election after losing it two years earlier.

When it comes to housing, the party leader was instrumental in the Liberal Democrat vote for the Bedroom Tax, later helping to implement it as policy.

According to voting records, Swinson repeatedly voted in favour of housing penalties for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms.

2011 also saw the party leader vote to introduce Universal Credit and to restrict housing benefit for those in social housing deemed to have excess bedrooms.

During the interview, when asked why she personally didn’t vote against the policies at the time, Swinson said it was because of “collective ministerial responsibility that she was unable to”.

Defending her track record, she said: “We did spend five years in a coalition government where clearly we didn’t win every battle against the Conservatives.

“We fought many battles, and we did win many battles for more money for schools, for more money for the poorest pupils.

“There are many things that I am very proud of and where we made a difference, but of course there are things where we didn’t win those battles, and I am sorry about that.”

Swinson is the third of the party leaders to face interviewer Andrew Neil.

Asking Swinson what she would say to those on “the end of these mistakes”, Neil added that 240,000 people had their benefits cut due to the bedroom tax.

Swinson replied: “Yes, I am sorry that I did that. It was not the right policy and we should have stopped it.”

As reported by 24housing, the release of the Lib Dem’s manifesto proposes that councils would be given the power to increase council tax on second homes by up to 500%, while the Bedroom Tax would be scrapped and people encouraged to downsize.

Asked by Neil if she would stay as Lib Dem leader, Swinson insisted she wasn’t going anywhere.

“I’m absolutely here to stay.”

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