Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/776/17239
Winning a reprieve from the bedroom tax
Lynne Sample, Newcastle Socialist Party
After a long and stressful process, I have finally received a letter from North Tyneside Council giving me a short "reprieve" from paying the bedroom tax for the remaining year of my student daughter's course. I appealed in March.
I also received a reply to my application for discretionary payment, which stated: "Discretionary Housing Payment is only awarded for a short term period," and that I: "should use this period of time to try to improve my household financial circumstances or find somewhere cheaper to live"!
I have recently given an interview on BBC Radio Newcastle and quoted this letter, giving my views on it.
Lynn addressing an anti-bedroom tax demo in Newcastle
I have already tried to get "somewhere cheaper to live" to no avail. I have been told that there are not enough one-bedroomed council or housing association flats and houses. Private renting is more expensive even if I agreed with it, which I don't.
Perhaps I should buy a cheap tent and erect it outside the offices of Your Homes Newcastle - or 'No Homes Newcastle' as I now prefer to call them?
As to improving my "financial circumstances", what kind of a joke is this? The small annual rise in my occupational pension gets eaten up by increased fuel prices, food prices and bus fares.
As my pension is not large enough to sustain a flea, I have to (reluctantly) claim ESA. I am not fit to work and, at 60, I have also been robbed of my state pension until 64. In any case, who would employ me?
I have photocopied the aforementioned letter, along with other offensive missives from this council, and cut them into squares to hang from a nail in my toilet because I can't afford toilet roll anymore!
I tried to set up a local anti-bedroom tax group. I booked a local council-run community centre for this purpose known as John Willie Sams. With others I spent time leafleting and getting names on petitions.
The day before the meeting, I received a text from the manager to say that: "The council is not allowed to allow its resources to be used for public meetings for political purposes."
We decided to hold the meeting outside anyway and, while remonstrating with the manager, I got him to write this quote on a piece of paper, which also now hangs in my toilet.
Labour councillors must be "running scared" at the level of opposition to the bedroom tax and their refusal to oppose it.
I am now planning my next move and will keep you posted, but, in the meantime, I have a plentiful supply of toilet paper! There is always a plus side.
- 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
We can beat the bedroom tax!
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In The Socialist 14 August 2013:
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