The so-called “bedroom tax” was inspired by an identical policy created by the last Labour government, a Liberal Democrat minister has told the Commons.
Don Foster said plans to reduce housing benefit for households with one or more spare room was the same as a Labour policy imposed on private sector housing.
The Housing Minister said the plans were a necessary check on the escalating cost of housing benefit.
He said: “There are a very large number of properties that are currently under occupied. That will help enormously.
“(It is) a policy that is identical to the one that is adopted by the Labour government in respect of housing benefit being paid in the private rented sector.
“We are taking the advice of the Labour Party who said a year ago housing benefit is too high and we need tough minded reform.”
But shadow minister Helen Jones said the policy would hit hard families with disabled children or service families keeping a spare room for a child deployed elsewhere.
She said: “You know those (homes) are not there so why don’t you abandon this vindictive policy?”
Mr Foster replied: “The Government is well aware of these issues and that is why in relation to the disabled people you talk about we have placed an additional £25 million available to help, that’s why in relation to carers we have made an additional £5 million.
“And could I say in relation to the Armed Forces, while the Armed Forces personnel is living at home, the home would have a £70 per week discount while the person is serving. That will only be the 14% discount, a very much lower sum of money.”