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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 July 2013

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.

We demand:

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In The Socialist 3 July 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories - cuts, Lib Dems - cuts, Labour - cuts

National Shop Stewards Network seventh annual conference

RMT reaffirms support for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

What the other half get paid

St Petersburg Pride rally attacked

Cameron and Blair's support for Kazakhstan regime blasted

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

65th anniversary of the NHS - How workers won the National Health Service

International socialist news and analysis

Mass street protests as Egypt is swept by revolution and counter-revolution

Socialist Party workplace news

Teachers strike in North West

Rochdale 'Future Directions' strike solid

Model motion from the NSSN

Workplace News in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

'Sick Of Your Boss?' week of action 8-13 July

Fighting back against hated bedroom tax

Letter to student left groups to discuss joint call for a national demo

Impressive national youth organisers meeting

Leeds: Building support for workers in South Africa

The Year of the Paper - boosting the sales of the Socialist

Fighting Fund target smashed!


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