Jo Swinson says she is 'sorry' for voting for the Bedroom Tax nine times during Coalition years

Posted On: 
4th December 2019

Jo Swinson has apologised for voting for the Bedroom Tax while she was a minister in the Coalition.

Jo Swinson said she was sorry for the Coalition's welfare cuts.
PA Images

The Lib Dem leader said the Tory-Lib Dem government had not struck the "right balance" between spending cuts and tax rises as they tried to bring down the UK's deficit.

Ms Swinson's comments came during a half-hour grilling at the hands of the BBC's Andrew Neil.

Jo Swinson meets Extinction Rebellion protesters dressed as bees in electric battle bus clash

Jo Swinson: Hiding from scrutiny, Boris Johnson's campaign is not worthy of someone seeking to be PM

Jo Swinson ramps up Boris Johnson attacks as she challenges him on Donald Trump visit

She also defended her party's controversial policy of cancelling Brexit altogether if they win the election - and insisted that she had no intention of quitting as Lib Dem leader if the party performs badly at the election.

Ms Swinson has been dogged about her voting record during the Coalition years, particularly her support for the then government's swingeing benefit cuts.

After Andrew Neil pointed out she had voted for the Bedroom Tax - which saw claimants penalised for having spare rooms in their rented properties - nine times, she said: "I’m sorry about that, and it was one of the things that we did get wrong."

When he told her that 240,000 people had been affected by the policy, Ms Swinson replied: "I am sorry that I did that. It was not the right policy. And we should have stopped it.

"And our manifesto – as our previous manifesto – makes clear that that should be scrapped. And we have identified the money to put into that. And not only the Bedroom Tax, but scrapping the two child limit which was introduced by the Conservatives, which we did stop in government but was introduced by the Conservative majority government after 2015.

"And to put six billion pounds into the welfare system which would also make Universal Credit much better for people."

The Lib Dem leader added: "Some cuts were necessary but the shape of those cuts and certainly the balance between cuts and tax rises I don’t think was the right balance.

"I think we should have been raising more from taxation and that’s something which we argued for and obviously that was one of the things that was not one of the battles that we always won during coalition."

Elsewhere in the interview, Ms Swinson said the Lib Dems were still committed to giving voters the "final say" on Brexit, but conceded that being able to scrap it it altogether was unlikely given the party's poor showing in the polls.

And despite her plummeting personal approval ratings, the party leader - who was only elected to the job in July - insisted she was going nowhere.

She said: "I’m here to stay and we’re going to get a great result."