Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, has published the following response to the 38 Degrees campaign on the Affordable Homes Bill and the abolition of the spare room subsidy:

The removal of the spare room subsidy was a necessary change in order to get the housing benefit bill under control, return fairness to the system and make better use of social housing stock.

I cannot support the Affordable Homes Bill, which aims to reverse this important change, when there are nearly two million households on social housing waiting lists in England alone and 360,000 families living in over-crowded accommodation. Estimates suggest that the Affordable Homes Bill would cost about £1 billion of public expenditure. At a time when many families are having to make cut backs, I do not believe this would be an appropriate use of public money.

It is also worth remembering that the changes the Government has introduced bring the social rented sector into line with rules which already apply to those who receive housing benefit in the private rented sector.

Provisions are also in place to exempt the disabled, foster carers and the armed forces and £165 million of funding has been made available for local councils to support vulnerable claimants in 2014/15.

In conclusion, I continue to believe that it cannot be right to subsidise families to live in houses too big for their needs which is why I did not vote for Andrew George’s Affordable Homes Bill.