Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/795/18015

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 January 2014

Bedroom tax loophole: Can legal tactics be effective?

Steve Score, East Midlands Socialist Party secretary

As reported in last week's Socialist, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that tenants who have been continuously entitled to housing benefit since at least 1 January 1996, and who have occupied the same home since that date, are exempt from the bedroom tax. This is because of a flaw in the drafting of legislation.

It means that possibly 40,000 tenants and their families have suffered who didn't need to, many may have been forced to move or have even been evicted.

As the Socialist pointed out last week, Stephanie Bottrill who committed suicide because of the bedroom tax, would not have been liable if this loophole had been known about.

Tenants now need to appeal to recover the money they have had illegally docked from their housing benefit. Campaigners need to put pressure on councils to identify affected tenants, because otherwise tenants may be left unaware

Fair play to the people who discovered the loophole and every person affected now needs to be compensated.

But of course the bedroom tax should be scrapped completely and all of those affected by it should be compensated for what they have lost.

But the campaigning needs to be kept up because the DWP, referring to the loophole, threatens it "will however be taking steps to remedy this shortly."

Legal tactics are a useful and important part of any mass campaign. They were used for example in the successful campaign against Margaret Thatcher's poll tax.

Part of the strategy was to clog up the courts system with people who refused, or were unable to pay their poll tax (a single-rate tax on every adult). Millions of cases were held up.

"Mackenzie Friends"

The anti-poll tax campaigns went to court to provide assistance, and used a legal precedent to go into the courtroom with defendants to assist even when they were not trained lawyers.

Early in the campaign, a court in Leicester refused to recognise these "Mackenzie Friends". The decision was appealed, and as a result anyone who asked for a Mackenzie Friend had their cases adjourned for long periods while the appeal went through the system.

Sometimes legal loopholes can even be used by governments to extricate themselves from mass pressure.

In 1972, striking dockers were jailed because of the anti-union laws introduced by the then Tory Prime Minister, Ted Heath.

In response, preparations for a general strike started to build from below, pressurising the TUC to threaten one officially.

A legal loophole was then used as a means for the government to climb down without openly admitting the reason for their defeat: mass action.

The dockers were released after the intervention of an interesting and previously little-known figure called the "official solicitor" and a decision by the Law Lords to overturn the jailings on a legal technicality.

Successful legal tactics can be the by-product of mass campaigns. In fact the right to a Mackenzie Friend is still accepted in cases today, going far beyond the use of it in poll tax cases.

However, there is no substitute for building struggle with maximum involvement of working class people.

Various different tactics can and should be used at the same time, but ultimately it is the power of working class people that can defeat bad laws and governments.

This was the case with the poll tax, the organised refusal to pay was what defeated it and brought down Margaret Thatcher.

The bedroom tax campaigns will still need to be built to defend those threatened with eviction, and the struggle against the bedroom tax needs to be linked up to the wider struggles against this government and the system of capitalism that all the main parties defend.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which is standing candidates in May's local elections, says that councils should refuse to implement the bedroom tax. "Councils should write off all bedroom tax-related arrears, withdraw all court proceedings and eviction orders where the bedroom tax has been a factor, and call on housing associations to do the same."

If you agree, why not stand as a TUSC candidate?

See www.tusc.org.uk

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 22 January 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Real living wage now

Capitalism is a system in crisis

Pay me - I'm a banker!

What exactly is the point of Labour?

Stop the NHS sell-off

Bedroom tax loophole: Can legal tactics be effective?

Fracking - profiting from environmental destruction

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Egypt referendum: no enthusiasm for new constitution

"Ireland is a success story" rhetoric is based on spin


Education

Stop the student debt spiral - day of action 6 February

Youth Fight for Jobs campaign in Croydon

An open letter to Tristram Hunt


Socialist Party workplace news

Transport workers have power to defeat cuts

Teachers need a date for national action

Teachers strike against threatened redundancies

NUT strikes against management "observations"

More action needed to defend Probation Service

Publicity alone can't save sacked union branch official

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Lincoln marches against racism and fascism

Protest against Atos 'assessments' on 19 February

Salford workers and environmentalists challenge council

Stop cuts in Kent

Carlisle petition


Readers' comments and reviews

Benefits Street: A caricature of poverty

Leeds' forgotten dispute: The 1913-14 Corporation Strike

Robert Burns, insurrectionary poet


 

Home   |   The Socialist 22 January 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Bedroom tax:

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories out! Corbyn can win with socialist policies

triangleWhy I joined: "I am a Labour Party member and I recently decided to join the Socialist Party"

triangleCourt win against bedroom tax not enough

triangleWe are all Daniel Blake: no more deaths from benefit cuts

Tax:

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleThem & Us

triangleProblem gambling soars by 33%

Tenants:

triangleNo more fire deaths - ensure safety now!

triangleLedbury tenants fight for decent homes

triangleGrenfell inquiry begins: not sufficient, not trusted

Poll tax:

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleSouth London tower block residents plan safety campaign

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2