Borders MP Michael Moore has hit back at criticism over his decision to vote against recent proposals from Labour to scrap the controversial ‘bedroom tax’, writes Mark Entwistle.
The tax is a cut to housing benefit for 660,000 families in the UK classed as having a spare bedroom.
But there has been widespread anger after records from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority showed that 177 Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs have amassed claims of up to £25,000 each for accommodation – a total of £3.2million between them in 2012-13.
Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk MP Mr Moore claimed more than £11,000 – he was also one of 31 Lib Dem MPs who voted down Labour’s call to scrap the tax.
Lanton resident, James Stewart, contacted The Southern to express what he said was his disgust at the expenses claimed by those Westminster MPs who voted against Labour’s proposal.
And Mr Stewart called on Mr Moore to explain how he justifies cutting what he said amounted to £16 a week from the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, and then claim up to £450 a week for his own “spare bedroom”.
Asked for a reaction, Mr Moore says that in his previous role as Scottish Secretary, he was very aware of the challenges and difficulties of the bedroom tax.
“In addition to dealing directly with affected constituents over the past year, I have proactively and regularly engaged with the four local housing associations and the council’s senior officials to understand the impact of the changes and seek to mitigate them,” he told The Southern.
“The result of that work inside government came earlier in the summer when an additional £5million was awarded to rural local authorities to allocate to those in difficulty, alongside an additional £20million for bids from local authority across the country.
“That money is helping people locally, but is not the end of the process – I will be meeting officials again to assess the latest situation and follow up on that work.”
Asked why he had not supported Labour’s motion, Mr Moore said it would not have changed the law as Opposition Day debate motions are not there for that purpose in reality.
“I have put my energy into understanding and mitigating the changes, as I have explained, which I believe is a more effective approach to tackling the problems of the ‘bedroom tax’,” he added.