Socialist Worker

Protests across country reject Tory bedroom tax

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2344

On the demonstration in Liverpool

On the demonstration in Liverpool (Pic: Socialist Worker)

More than 12,000 people across more than 50 towns and cities protested against the Tories' vicious bedroom tax yesterday, Saturday.

From April poor social housing tenants will lose up to 25 percent of their housing benefit if they are deemed to have too many rooms. For many this will make it impossible to pay the rent.

But the plans have been met with fury.


Dawn Grant (Pic: Socialist Worker)

One of the biggest protests was in Liverpool, where campaigners have launched anti-bedroom tax groups in many of Merseyside's poorest areas.

“I'm on the dole, and I've got a two bedroom flat where my daughter stays several nights a week,” said Peter Kelly from Dingle. “Now they say her bedroom is void, and I'll have to pay up or move out.”

He's one of up to 30,000 people in Merseyside who'll be hit by the tax.

Kirsty Kirklands from Bootle was protesting after hearing how many of her friends and family will be affected. Her aunt stands to lose £50 a week.

“She's just being persecuted,” said Kirsty. “It's like the government wants to make everyone homeless. There will be families on the streets.”

One of the most powerful speeches was from Lyndsey Wade, who has been told she'll have to pay the tax on the room her ten year old son slept in until he died two years ago.

Dawn Grant and her disabled husband could lose their three bedroom home in Wallasea.

“The housing association have got no one bedroom flats for us to move into,” she told Socialist Worker. “If we move we'll end up paying more for a private landlord. And no-one would take our dogs—I don't want to see them put down.”

The day of action was called by a section of the Labour party. Deputy mayor Paul Brant called it “an historic day, not just for the city of Liverpool but our nation as a whole.

“We are united in standing against this unfair bedroom tax”.

Another councillor added, “This is a tax the Labour government has to repeal when it gets into power.”

But with just weeks before the bedroom tax comes into effect, resistance needs to start now. Many on the protest agreed, including Will and Sandra from Newsham Park.

“What I'd like to see is everyone who's affected refusing to pay,” said Will. “There's not enough room in prison for them all.”

Will and Sandra

Will and Sandra (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Sandra added, “The government has already had to make concessions, and a few councils have said they won't evict people who go into arrears because of this. Liverpool council should definitely do that too!”

There were also hundreds on the streets of Sheffield. Campaigners in the north east of England set up meetings in Durham and Gateshead after demonstrations of more than 200 people.

There were 150 people in Norwich, 100 in Cambridge, and more than 50 in Darlington, Workington and Bath.

Campaigners in Manchester turned their 500-strong rally into an open-mic meeting followed by a militant march around the city.

Many councils and housing associations are warning tenants to be prepared to move. But this growing movement is giving more and people the confidence to say they won't leave.

“I'm going to stay put,” said Dawn. “It will take months, and there will be casualties, but this bedroom tax will be beaten. They'll have to put their hands up and say it's not working—and in the meantime I'm not going anywhere.”


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Article information

Thu 21 Mar 2013, 14:18 GMT
Issue No. 2344
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