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Posted on 26 April 2013 at 11:52 GMT

Plymouth council asks for scrapping of bedroom tax

Ryan Aldred, Plymouth Socialist Party

Plymouth City Council has voted 34 votes to 20 to write to the government asking the Con-Dems to scrap the bedroom tax.

The council will be calling on Iain Duncan Smith and Plymouth area MPs to scrap the tax. Even taking this limited action is a result of pressure from the campaign against the bedroom tax.

The bedroom tax and cuts to council tax benefit do not affect the majority on a personal level but people know that the policy is brutally targeting the poorest and most vulnerable and they cannot allow this to pass.

This government keeps saying that we are all having to do without and yet while most of us face austerity measures, millionaires have just received tax cuts.

Forcing the Labour council to vocalise objection is a good first step but now is not the time for complacency, for this is only the beginning of the struggle in Plymouth.

The important thing now is to remain focussed. The council has moved to call for the scrapping of the policy but that does not make it go away.

Anti-cuts activity

The campaign group Plymouth Against Benefit Cuts, which has been set up mainly by Socialist Party activists, will be reaching out into the communities affected by the bedroom tax.

Its members will be speaking to tenants' associations and those affected with the aim of helping to organise campaign groups in local communities and further lobbies.

Plymouth City Council needs to be pushed to act against the bedroom tax, not just posture for the sake of winning favour for future election campaigns.

We will be pressing the council to write to housing associations advising them to reclassify their social housing as a way to practically oppose the bedroom tax. Housing associations are also being directly lobbied by activists to do so.

The bedroom tax is not the only cut people are being hit with. Cuts to council tax benefits will affect even more people.

This is something that was barely discussed in the full council meeting on 22 April, except for the council to state that it is willing to use bailiffs to evict those who accrue debts from non-payment of council tax.

This is outrageous and we must campaign for the council to pledge not to evict tenants affected by welfare cuts.

Labour councillors spoke out fervently against the injustices and hardships faced by those having to pay the bedroom tax.

But we need more than just words and must expose and oppose their hypocrisy as they have chosen to impose a 25% cut to council tax benefit.

Challenge councillors

We need to demand that the council really stands up for the people of Plymouth and pledges not to implement any of these cuts.

If they refuse, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will stand anti-cuts candidates against them.

These measures are ideologically driven by a group who have naught but their own interests at heart. They are using divide and rule tactics to pit public against private sector, British against immigrant workers and workers against benefit claimants.

The real issue is that the government's heavy-handed and ideologically driven approach has led to a triple-dip recession.

They are incompetent, inconsiderate of the deepening poverty levels that their austerity measures are causing and are only out to line their own pockets.

I hope that with this small victory, many more will be encouraged to join the fray and see these brutal 'reforms' completely and utterly reversed.

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