Labour cannot promise to repeal the bedroom tax, its shadow benefits minister has told a Newcastle audience.
Liam Byrne was in Tyneside to set out Labour’s plans to create jobs if it forms the next government.
But despite repeated criticism of the coalition’s bedroom tax, the shadow minister refused to say he would definitely axe the policy.
The Government’s bedroom tax sees families lose a slice of their housing benefit if they have one or more spare rooms.
Speaking after seeing a memorial to the Jarrow Crusaders, he said: “We are not going to make promises we can’t keep.
“I believe very strongly that this is a tax that will cost more than it saves. I know I have to prove that beyond reasonable doubt and that is the research that I am doing now to gather evidence from across the country.
“We hear of houses lying empty because people can’t afford the tax that would hit them if they moved in, so obviously it does not make sense.”
Locally Labour councillors have said they have heard anecdotal claims that families are reluctantly preparing to give up their home because there is no sign a Labour Government in 2015 would reverse the measure.
Asked about these claims, Mr Byrne said: “We have to work through our position as fast as we can, but no one will forgive us for making promises we can’t keep.
“Ed Miliband has been dead clear about that. We can’t make the same mistake as the Lib Dems who promised not to raise tuition fees and reneged on that within ten minutes of getting into office.
“We think this tax should go, it is a bad, immoral tax but we know that before we make a promise to reverse it we have to prove we can pay for that.”