Socialist Worker

'The Tories' bedroom tax will make us homeless'

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2343

Axe the tax! Protesters hit the streets in Bootle  (Pic: Dave Fagan)

Axe the tax! Protesters hit the streets in Bootle (Pic: Dave Fagan)


Anger is growing at the government’s attacks on benefits.

From April sweeping changes to the welfare system will cut benefits for millions.

The bedroom tax will take away between £40 and £80 a month from social housing tenants deemed to have “too many” bedrooms.

More than 600,000 people on housing benefit could lose their homes if they can no longer afford to pay their rent.

Some 500 people gathered at the One Vision housing association in Bootle, Merseyside, on Thursday of last week, for a march against the tax.

“The demonstration was amazing,” said Merseyside social work student Fran Byron.

“Loads more people turned up on a weekday morning than anyone expected.”

Fran has been part of a growing movement against the bedroom tax across Merseyside.

“People can’t afford to pay,” she said. “People will be made homeless.

“And it’s something people can’t turn a blind eye to because it’s

happening to them and their friends and neighbours.”

More than 50 people came to a meeting against the bedroom tax in Manchester on Tuesday of last week.

Hundreds had signed up to a national Benefit Justice campaign meeting in London on Saturday of this week.

Some Labour Party activists have called for protests in some towns and cities on Saturday of next week.

It wants the tax put back a year to give time to find exceptions for the most vulnerable tenants.

Landlords

In the north east of England even housing association landlords, which will evict people who can’t pay their rent, are supporting Labour’s plan.

More demonstrations are planned in London and Glasgow on 30 March.

Many tenants will be hit because there are no smaller flats for them to move into.

And around two thirds of those affected will be disabled, sometimes because they have specially adapted homes.

The government has created a £30 million fund to help compensate them. But the National Housing Foundation has found that disabled people will be forced to fork out an extra £100 million.

“Some people will be able to refuse to pay,” said Fran, “but they can’t be left to fight this alone.

“We need broad anti-cuts campaigns, supported by unions to put pressure on housing associations and councils.”

The bedroom tax is just one element of the benefits onslaught.

Disability Living Allowance claimants will be moved to the new Personal Independence Payment and re-assessed on harsher criteria.

Anyone able to walk 50 metres could lose their mobility support.

Several million people around Britain will be hit by cuts to council tax relief.

The Tories have delayed a plan to cap benefits at £500 a week until later in the year.

But councils in the capital know that these lower benefits won’t cover London rents.

They are already preparing to move poor families hundreds of miles away.


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News
Tue 5 Mar 2013, 15:46 GMT
Issue No. 2343
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