Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/772/17041
Tenants and campaigners unite
Fighting back against hated bedroom tax
The Con-Dems' hated bedroom tax - which penalises low income social housing tenants claiming housing benefit, deemed to have 'spare bedrooms' - came into force on 1 April.
Rent arrears owed to councils and housing associations have inevitably soared throughout Britain and many indebted tenants are facing eviction and homelessness.
On the same day as the bedroom tax was introduced the government reduced the top rate of income tax on high earners and lowered the rate of corporation tax on big business.
Socialist Party member Kevin Pattison reports on how anti-bedroom tax campaigners in Leeds are fighting back.
Hands Off Our Homes has held over a dozen public meetings in Leeds and from these formed eight anti-bedroom tax campaign groups.
These have assisted tenants with appeals and with applications for Discretionary Housing Payment. The groups stick together and support each other.
In April, 1,000 people demonstrated in Leeds against the bedroom tax supported by many onlookers. There has also been massive support for the campaign at public stalls held throughout Leeds.
We have lobbied individual councillors at their surgeries. Many Labour councillors have told us that they are against the bedroom tax and against evictions.
So many Labour councillors have declared themselves against the tax and against evictions that it is difficult to see how the majority Labour group and Leeds city council has not got a 'no evictions' policy! But so far no Labour-led council has agreed not to implement the tax, as the Socialist Party demands.
The council has made much of the fact that they have redesignated 800 rooms, so they don't count as bedrooms.
We support this but only 275 of these rooms belong to the 8,000 households who are affected by the bedroom tax, so the vast majority are still getting further into rent arrears.
The council has made some concessions after debates with Hands Off Our Homes and the lead councillor for housing came to speak to the delegation.
The statement has been referred to the Executive Board and Leeds tenants and campaigners will be watching closely. We will organise action to ensure that there are no evictions in Leeds.
On Monday 1 July Hands Off Our Homes lobbied the full council meeting. Socialist Party member Iain Dalton led a delegation and read a statement explaining how the bedroom tax was hitting people hard.
"We have talked to parents in Harehills and in Armley who have started to miss meals in order to feed their children.
We have spoken to a grandmother in Beeston whose home of 23 years is the only place that her grandkids can see their dad; to a grandmother in Morley who looks after her disabled grandson to give her daughter some respite; a grandmother in Seacroft whose grandchildren stay over so their mum can work nights.
None of these are 'spare' rooms - they are part of a home and all the different functions that a home plays in the life of families. Every case is an injustice."
The statement also called for a 'no evictions' policy for people in arrears because of the tax, and for the council to build more social housing.
- Scrap the bedroom tax and write-off all the resulting debt
- Defend all those who cannot or will not pay
- No evictions for rent arrears due to the tax or austerity cuts. Build an anti-eviction army
- End all cuts - tax the bankers and the billionaires not bedrooms
- For a programme of new council house building to meet social need
- Build a mass movement against austerity starting with a 24-hour general strike organised by the trade unions
In The Socialist 3 July 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns