Socialist Worker

Protests to take on Tory benefit cuts

Issue No. 2353

Ciara Doyle

Ciara Doyle, Disabled People Against Cuts activist, speaking at the summit (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Benefits campaigners have called protests in several areas, including Wakefield and Sheffield, this week.

A major national day of action will follow on Saturday 1 June, which will coincide with international protests against austerity.

Activists will also help build a protest at the Tory party conference in Manchester on 29 September.

This movement can put pressure on Labour as well as the government. 

Labour-run councils and housing associations can refuse to evict tenants who can’t pay their rent due to benefit cuts.

Several have already passed motions not to evict tenants for a certain period of time.

If Ed Miliband pledges that a future Labour government will repeal the tax it will make it much easier for more councils to do this.

Ash Haynes, a Green Party councillor in Norwich, had unsuccessfully put a motion for no evictions to her council. 

“The council agreed to write a letter to the cabinet asking them to reconsider the bedroom tax,” she told Socialist Worker.

“That’s good—but it’s not going to comfort many people when the same council is evicting them from their homes.

“We need actions as well as words. 

“I hope the benefit justice summit will lead to more people going to their councils and demanding they take a stand.”

The first of two judicial reviews against the bedroom tax was set to begin on Wednesday of this week.

Landlords are putting pressure on tenants in arrears to pay up.

But any evictions could take months and cost thousands of pounds—especially if claimants appeal.

“No one should put their faith in the law to stop the bedroom tax,” said barrister Phil McLeish. 

“But it can buy time and provide a platform for building solidarity.”

Tenants at the summit raised the prospect of mass protests outside eviction court cases in the autumn.

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