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Anti-bedroom tax campaigning
Newcastle anti-bedroom tax demo video
Video by Paul Phillips.
Greater Manchester Federation launched
The Greater Manchester Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation hit the ground running on 20 July at an energetic rally attended by anti-cuts groups from across the city.
Over 100 people turned out to inaugurate the federation, including affected residents and tenants, trade unionists, local activists and contingents from sister campaigns in Liverpool and Barnsley.
Roger Lewis from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Marion Nisbet from the Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation gave stirring addresses. Speakers from the floor gave their stories of the misery created in their communities by the pernicious bedroom tax, as well as the victories that local campaigns have scored. Tales of lobbying Labour councillors all came with the same familiar response of indifference and contempt from New Labour.
The meeting discussed the options for future action, including the possibility of civil disobedience to prevent bailiffs entering and repossessing homes. One speaker said: "There will be blood on the pavement outside my house before I leave it!"
After a spirited democratic discussion, the federation's founding statement was ratified unanimously. A steering committee was elected, including six Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition supporters.
Acocks Green campaign starts in Birmingham
On 23 July, Acocks Green in Birmingham saw its first anti-bedroom tax meeting, organised by local Socialist Party activist Eamon Flynn.
The 40 people attending listened to Dave Nellist, former Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor.
Dave compared social housing tenants losing 14% or 25% of their housing benefit for having 'spare rooms', to the £10,000s claimed by MPs for having a second home in London. With 23 millionaires in the Con-Dem cabinet, the bedroom tax is a law by the rich, for the rich.
The insanity of the bedroom tax was illustrated by a recent case with a major housing association, where Dave had helped in a dispute over the designation of a 4'1" wide box-room as a spare bedroom!
He proposed that, if councillors continue to implement the bedroom tax, ordinary working class people should put forward candidates of their own; representatives who would fight for the interests of working class people of Birmingham.
There were many in the audience who gave accounts of their very difficult circumstances, including a woman whose son was away in the army so his room is classified as spare!
At the end of the meeting, many attendees put themselves forward to help set up a local anti-bedroom tax group.
The High Court has rejected a challenge by ten disabled families over the bedroom tax, saying that the benefit cut does not breach human rights.
Two thirds of households affected by the bedroom tax contain someone who is disabled.
The BBC has reported that the Con-Dem government is "incredibly pleased" by the decision.
The families are going to appeal against the decision, but the court's verdict shows that mass action is needed to defeat the tax.
We can beat the bedroom tax!
- Scrap the bedroom tax and write-off all the 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
Know your rights sheet:
In The Socialist 31 July 2013:
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