Socialist Worker

Tenants fight back against hated bedroom tax

Tenants and workers are organising resistance to the bedroom tax across Britain, reports Dave Sewell

Issue No. 2356

Thousands came onto the streets of Glasgow to oppose the bedroom tax

Thousands came onto the streets of Glasgow to oppose the bedroom tax (Pic: Duncan Brown)


The tenants’ movement is building resistance to the Tories’ bedroom tax.

The fightback was on show in demonstrations in cities and towns around Britain on Saturday of last week.

More than 3,000 people from across Scotland rallied in Glasgow’s George Square to voice their anger—and their determination to resist.

“Going to the campaign meetings has given me hope,” said Donna McDonnell, a young tenant from Glasgow’s Castlemilk estate.

 “I’d been going out of my head worrying. Even before the bedroom tax there are weeks when I’ve had to live on cereal, to choose between buying food or paying the bills.

“Young people have been coming up to me and saying they haven’t slept for worrying what’s going to happen to their mum or their dad.

“Now I can tell them there’s a place where people are organising and fighting back.”

Over 120 people went to a meeting in Castlemilk last week. Some 2,500 people have signed a petition calling for no evictions.

These campaign groups are where many people turn for legal advice or help putting in appeals.

Gail from Paisley said the meetings were building an “anti eviction army—so that as soon as we hear of anyone being evicted we have 

contact lists of people who’ll get down there and stop it happening”.

Scare

The threat of eviction is one of several scare tactics being used by councils and landlords.

“I’m getting a letter every couple of days now,” said Mary McCallum from View Park in north Lanarkshire.

“They are tying to intimidate me, and asking really personal questions about what I spend my money on.”

Other tenants hit by the tax have had North Lanarkshire council’s contractors come to put locks on doors of their “spare” bedroom. 

The council has refused to rule out evictions.

“I've resigned from the Labour Party after being a die-hard member for 30 years,” said Michael Flanigan. 

“I joined Labour to pull people out of poverty, but by supporting these welfare reforms they are doing the opposite. 

“We’re campaigning to put a stop to that, and we’ll give them a fight they’ll never forget.”

David O’Neill is president of the Cosla organisation of Scottish councils. He said last week that they were “between a rock and a hard place” opposing the “plain wrong” bedroom tax but “obliged” to implement it.

Councillor Jim Hart of Renfrewshire council disagreed.  “We’ve passed a policy not to evict, and other councils should follow suit,” he told Socialist Worker. 

“We have a duty to make that commitment to vulnerable people who are under attack.”

A number of trade unions have also signed up to support the campaign. Representatives of Unison, Unite, PCS, EIS and UCU all spoke at the rally.

“This is the beginning of a long and determined campaign,” said Angela McCormick of the EIS union and Scotland Anti Bedroom Tax Federation. “Together we are stronger—and we can beat it.”


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News
Tue 4 Jun 2013, 17:42 BST
Issue No. 2356
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