A HAMPSHIRE Liberal Democrat MP has welcomed his party leader’s surprise U-turn on the controversial ‘bedroom tax’.

Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton – a fierce critic of the measure – said he was delighted that Nick Clegg had announced the rethink.

Mr Thornton said: “I’m delighted the Liberal Democrats have listened to the evidence and are fighting for a fairer system.

“The changes were brought in with good intentions – but it is clear that they are not working and vulnerable people are being unfairly penalised by the changes.”

However, Mr Thornton declined to say whether he would like to see the bedroom tax axed in its current form as soon as a vote in September.

Labour has vowed to force a Commons vote to reverse the painful housing benefit cuts, which have forced hundreds of Southampton families into arrears.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that less than one per cent of Southamp-ton tenants hit by the bedroom tax had moved to a smaller home – just 13 of 1,444 households in the city. In addition, 243 tenants had been plunged into arrears.

But the Tories insisted that there would be no changes, which means that benefit cuts of 14 per cent (for one extra bedroom) and 25 per cent (where there are two) will continue, in social housing.

The coalition Govern-ment introduced the controversial “spare room subsidy” to force under-occupying households to move to free up larger homes for families living in cramped conditions, as well as saving £465m.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s work and pension spokeswoman, said: “Labour will look to call a vote in Parliament. The Lib Dems could cancel this cruel policy now by voting with Labour.”