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'Worried about bedroom tax? Go out to work!' Lord's comments are branded 'misguided'.

Byline: David Williamson Political Editor david.williamson@walesonline.co.uk

FAMILIES hit by the bedroom tax can "go out to work" or "use the sofa-bed", an architect of the Government's welfare reforms told MPs yesterday.

Lord Freud said families with young children in social accommodation who face a housing benefit cut because they have more than their allocated number of bedrooms could "earn money". When asked at the Westminster Welsh Affairs committee how they could do this if they did not want to take in a lodger, he said: "People could go out to work."

Labour last night said the comments were "deeply offensive" to families struggling to find "decent jobs" and Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams attacked the policy as "misguided".

Lord Freud, who serves as an unpaid minister at the Department for Work &Pensions, suggested that separated parents could either pay the penalty for an extra bedroom or make use of a sofa bed when children were staying.

He said: "Some people may find it is worthwhile spending the extra PS12 a week to have that facility. Others will use the sofa bed.

"The issue is dual-provision of those bedrooms is expensive; giving a child a bedroom in two places is a very expensive thing for the state to do and currently we can't afford that."

Lord Freud admitted he was concerned about fathers having weekend access to children.

He said: "Family break-up, as we all know, is one of the most enormously expensive things both for the individual and society.

"The issue is how much of that cost can the state afford to bear?" The Government's own impact assessment last year predicted a higher proportion of working age social housing tenants in receipt of housing benefit would be affected in Wales than in any other part of the country (46%), losing on average PS12 a week.

After the committee session, Cardiff South & Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty said: "Many hardworking families struggling to get by will find his comments that they should go out and make some money deeply offensive - particularly when many of them are struggling to find decent jobs in his government's stagnant economy.

"And his suggestion that separated parents should put up their children on sofa beds also beggars belief."
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 15, 2013
Words:377
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