Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/807/18468
Beating Bedroom Tax evictions
Dave Murray, Basildon Socialist Party
In a clear signal that the bedroom tax is more trouble than it is worth, even for a mean spirited Tory local authority, Basildon council withdrew 35 out of the 36 possession orders it had listed at Basildon Crown Court on 11 April.
Socialist Party members have been campaigning against the tax in Basildon for over a year, launching BABS (Basildon against the bedroom surcharge) at the public meeting we held as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election campaign in April 2013.
When we started the campaign we were on our own, with prominent local Labour councillors refusing even to sign our no-evictions petition.
It was only thanks to pressure from campaign members and the threat of an amendment from a breakaway group of independent Labour councillors that the Labour group put forward a no-evictions policy.
The council not only withdrew 35 of the 36 eviction cases, but also paid off the tenants' rent arrears by using discretionary housing payments. In the one case that went to a hearing and resulted in a suspended possession order against a member of the campaign, the council only managed to get the court to play ball on the grounds that they had paid off that part of the arrears that was due to the tax. A council officer told one of us that to evict someone because of the bedroom tax was "politically unviable".
The struggle is by no means over. It is possible that Labour will gain control of the council in May - but they are at best uncertain friends. There are still over 1,400 tenants in Basildon somehow paying bedroom tax out of their meagre benefits.
Even if the bedroom tax proves to be a dead duck our work will not be done. While Labour is offering austerity with a human face and Ukip are selling austerity with a Hitler moustache, we will be standing for TUSC in the local elections and building a socialist alternative.
At less than 24 hours notice, over 40 people turned up in Walkden, Salford, to prevent an eviction for bedroom tax arrears.
News came through that City West Housing Association had backed off, and a judge had ordered a month's respite.
A number of anti-fracking campaigners from the Barton Moss camp supported the picket and speakers from Salford City Unison and Salford against Cuts spoke at a victory rally - if we are needed we'll be back in a month!
In The Socialist 16 April 2014:
Socialist Party election campaigning
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns