‘Bedroom tax’ as divisive as ever

William JordanUS Elections Editor
July 18, 2014, 9:15 AM GMT+0

Half of the public now oppose the bedroom benefit rules, up from 38% in March 2013

Labour has accused Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats of "unbelievable hypocrisy" over a U-turn on the "bedroom tax" policy. The Lib Dems announced on Tuesday that the party would seek to overhaul the policy of decreasing housing benefits for people that have more rooms than the government think are necessary.

YouGov research finds that the policy remains divisive even as it is not widely opposed. In March 2013, around half (49%) of the public supported it while just under four in ten (38%) opposed it. Those numbers are flipped in the latest YouGov poll for The Sun: half (49%) now oppose the 'bedroom tax' while only 41% support it.

Voters were against the policy by a similar margin last November, but opposition fell back into the low 40s during late 2013 and early 2014. However the level of support hasn’t been higher than 42% since after the initial poll in March 2013.

When the changes to the housing benefit were introduced in April 2013, they were quickly put to intense critical scrutiny from Labour politicians and some in the media. Critics have argued the policy would effectively penalise people that had could not easily move to a smaller residence, such as disabled people, and began referring to it as a “bedroom tax”. David Cameron rejected that characterisation and insisted that the changes merely remove a “spare room subsidy”.

The policy reversal comes at a time when Liberal Democrat electoral prospects are looking increasingly perilous amid the run-up to the 2015 general election. Wednesday's YouGov voting intention poll for The Sun had the Lib Dems at 6%, a tie for their lowest level of support ever. Today they are back at 8%.

Image: Getty

See the full poll results