Another day, another Lords defeat for the government. Last night, peers voted by a majority of only 10 to moderate proposals to cut housing benefit from people in council houses who have spare rooms. Under the amendment passed, war widows, foster carers and disabled people would be exempt from the cut, which DWP says would cost £100m.
Many within Number 10 are delighted at this defeat. They say that the more peers defeat the welfare bill, the more it keeps these popular proposals in the news. It reminds voters of some of the government’s most vote-winning schemes and helps paint the Lords and Labour as out of touch. One senior coalition source told me that it was a “win-win” situation, saying:
Obviously we’d like to get the reforms through and onto the statute book, but we’re quite happy for this to go on a bit longer.