Socialist Worker

Bedroom tax activists on war footing over evictions

by Dave Sewell and Mark Krantz
Issue No. 2365

anti bedroom tax protesters cheers outside manchester magistrates court

Campaigners protest outside Manchester Magistrates Court (Pic: Mark Krantz)


Campaigners are gearing up to take on courts and bailiffs to defend the homes of people hit by benefit cuts.

Some landlords have already taken action against people whose existing arrears had been made dramatically worse by the bedroom tax.

Irene Lockett was evicted from the home she’d lived in for 20 years last month in Kirkby, Merseyside. She has been hit by £23.24 bedroom tax every week on the rooms of her children who have now left home.

Irene’s neighbours and family rallied to form a human ring around her home on Wednesday of last week. They stopped bailiffs taking her belongings away before she had found somewhere to store them.

Barnsley’s anti bedroom tax groups are on a war footing after the council sent a large number of notices to seek possession. 

These mean that the council can begin proceedings any time in the next 12 months.

At least one tenant, who had been issued a notice over older arrears in February, has received a summons for Wednesday 20 August. And she won’t be alone.

Union

“We’ve called a big demonstration on the day with lots of union banners,” said campaigner Fran Postlethwaite. “Whenever we go out we meet more people who’ve been affected”.

The court fight over council tax—which millions of the poorest people are being charged for the first time since April—is already well underway.

Hundreds of  people were summonsed to Sheffield Magistrates court on Friday of last week.

And Manchester city council summonsed 3,000 residents to court last Thursday over new council tax charges of £8 a month.

The Labour council is not only using the court to intimidate people into paying money they do not have—it is also adding £82 court costs.

That is £247,000 levied in court costs in just one day. 

Handful

Magistrates heard only a handful of cases, which were all referred back to the council.

The Anti Bedroom Tax Federation organised a protest outside the court. 

At the last minute the council withdrew its summons against the Federation’s joint chair Honor Donnelly—a victory for the Federation’s campaigns.

“They had not processed all of my appeals,” said Honor, “and they knew I would be represented in court.”

Bedroom tax campaigner Mervyn Drage has mental and physical disabilities including partial blindness. The court gave him a liability order for £140.62.

“I am afraid what will happen, but we will fight this all the way” he said. 

 


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