Let’s finish it off!

Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland
Glasgow demonstration against the bedroom tax and austerity 30 March 2013, photo Jim Halfpenny

Glasgow demonstration against the bedroom tax and austerity 30 March 2013, photo Jim Halfpenny   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Bedroom tax non-payment levels are soaring in Scotland with an estimated £25 million – half of the £50 million due – likely to be unpaid this year.

Hated and reviled by those it is impoverishing, trade unions, councils, housing associations, the Scottish government and now even a United Nations representative have all been pressed into calling on the Westminster government to scrap it.

Recent victories have emboldened the anti-bedroom tax campaign in Scotland:

In Dundee in April, the Bin the Bedroom Tax campaign forced the Scottish National Party-led council to agree to a ‘no eviction for a year’ policy – the first council to do so. This pledge has now spread to a majority of councils.

The Labour-led North Lanarkshire council, which had threatened eviction proceedings against a disabled woman, was overturned by a community revolt in August. North Lanarkshire council has agreed to no evictions until April 2014.

A Labour MSP has now drawn up a bill that would change the legislation to rule out evictions and provide £50 million to mitigate the bedroom tax.

Now the Scottish SNP government has announced an extra £20 million this year for DHP payments to help mitigate the impact of the Tory tax.

However – this is not enough. Only the full £50 million and a commitment to cover the loss in housing benefit for the 85,000 households affected until the bedroom tax is scrapped will do.

SNP and Labour politicians have been dragged into action by a mass campaign of opposition from the close-on 100 local campaigns that have been set up and the work of the Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation.

Huge public meetings, thousands on demonstrations, protests at council meetings and the Scottish parliament, as well as MSPs’ and councillors’ surgeries, have piled on the pressure. Anti-eviction armies are being assembled across Scotland.

The money is there. Last year’s underspend by the Scottish government was £179 million. There is likely to be a similar underspend this year.

Combined with the reserves and borrowing powers that local councils have, no tenant in Scotland should have to worry about where they will find the money to pay this tax.

What is the use of SNP and Labour politicians if they won’t act and use the powers they do have to protect the poor, disabled and the vulnerable? We are close to a victory over this shocking piece of class hatred, inflicted by a government of pampered millionaires on the poor. It would be a victory not only against the bedroom tax, but against all the cuts being inflicted by the Con-Dems and will give confidence to all fighting back against austerity.

Socialist Party Scotland members have been at the forefront of the campaign against the bedroom tax, in setting up local campaigns in areas across Scotland and in the establishment of the Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation. We say:

  • Scottish government must act now to change the Housing Act and legislate for no evictions in Scotland for the bedroom tax
  • Scottish government, councils and HAs must agree to fund 100% of the money lost to tenants as a result of the bedroom tax
  • Westminster government must scrap the bedroom tax and return all money stolen through it