The housing benefit changes are set to affect London particularly

Labour attempts to turn Lib Dem MP on housing benefit vote

Labour attempts to turn Lib Dem MP on housing benefit vote

By staff

A key committee vote to determine support for the government’s controversial plans on housing benefit may stand or fall on Labour’s attempt to persuade a Liberal Democrat backbencher.

The committee is voting today on its judgment of the proposals. With ten coalition MPs and eight opposition and unionist MPs likely to vote against, Labour figures are targeting Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd to deadlock the vote.

The other Lib Dem on the committee, Steve Webb, is barred from voting against due to his commitments as a minister.

The proposals are not subject to a Commons vote given its nature as a benefit change, but under pressure from Labour the government agreed to set up the special committee.

Mr Llloyd has reportedly said he will support the thrust of the proposals, which could see an end to lifetime tenures and allowing councils to determine rent rates in a bid to increase turnover of tenants to ease the pressure on social housing.

The changes have prompted heavy criticism from housing charities, as well as angry exchanges on the floor of the Commons – with Labour’s Chris Bryant beginning a row with Nick Clegg by referring to the poor being “sociologically cleansed from inner London”.

Several Lib Dem MPs, including deputy leader Simon Hughes, who represents Bermondsey and Southwark, are known to be uncomfortable with the plans, given the high proportion of social housing in their constituencies.