More than 100 people from across Greater Manchester came to the city centre last Saturday to launch a regional federation against the bedroom tax.
Eight of Greater Manchester’s ten councils are now represented by at least one bedroom tax campaign. And some are represented by three or more.
Getting organised has made people feel strong.
There was a big delegation from a new group in Bolton. The group began after one woman who’d been hit by the bedroom tax came to a demonstration in Manchester three weeks ago.
She brought her children and others from her estate, and spoke at the demonstration for the first time. We put her in touch with the local trades council.
Within weeks there was a meeting with over 60 people and three pages on the bedroom tax in the Bolton Evening News.
More than 11,000 people in Bolton are now on a waiting list for just 91 one-bed homes.
People across Greater Manchester have shown how easy it is to set up a group and start fighting back.
We agreed a founding statement at the conference. It points out the Tory lies over the bedroom tax.
The Tories say they need the tax because it will save them £500 million. Yet the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK is around £450 billion—and they aren’t being asked to pay more.
The Tories are fighting really hard to divide claimants and workers—so we’re building unity.
At every level in the federation we have elected someone who is affected by the bedroom tax and someone else from a trade union.
So our co-chairs are a tenant from Wythenshaw and branch secretary of the PCS union.
The firefighters’ FBU union has supported us from the start, and we passed a motion in their support after a firefighter was killed last week.
We want to get coaches and big delegations from all the estates for the TUC protest on 29 September, when the Tories hold their conference in Manchester.
We’re planning local demonstrations and other activities to build the momentum.
We are also fighting other cuts.
Since April many people on benefits have had to pay council tax for the first time. There are hundreds of people in arrears already.
Honor Donnelly, co-chair of our new federation, has been summonsed before the court as a result of council tax arrears on Thursday of next week.
Others who are in arrears have been summonsed to the court on the same day.
But they won’t have to face it alone. We’ll all be outside the court protesting.