Michael Gove unwittingly makes the case against the bedroom tax

The Education Secretary's warning that poor children suffer when they do not have their own bedrooms is at odds with the coalition's policy.

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During a Q&A at Policy Exchange yesterday, following his speech on teaching, Michael Gove noted that poor children often suffer because they do not have their own bedrooms for homework.

There are children, poor children, who do not have rooms of their own in which to do their homework, in which to achieve their full potential.

Nick Boles' planning reforms will make it easier for more homes of a larger size to be built. That's why when people oppose these planning reforms I think they are actually standing in the way of helping our children.

Nothing controversial in that, but with his remarks the Education Secretary unwittingly made the case against the bedroom tax. Under the measure, which reduces housing benefit by 14% for those deemed to have one "spare room" and by 25% for those with two or more, children under the age of 16 and of the same gender are expected to share a bedroom, while children under the age of 10 are expected to share regardless of their gender. 

The question for Labour remains: will you scrap it? At PMQs this week, fixing his glare at the party's frontbench, David Cameron scornfully remarked: "You have ranted and raved about the spare room subsidy. Are you going to reverse it? Just nod. Are you going to reverse it? Yes or no? Absolutely nothing to say, and weak with it."

But as I've previously reported, the party will almost certainly pledge to scrap it in advance of the general election, with an announcement possibly coming at next month's conference. 

Education Secretary Michael Gove leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on September 4, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is senior online editor of the New Statesman.

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