Campaigners in Glasgow swiftly reversed the eviction of a tenant hit by the bedroom tax last week.
Secretary of the Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation Gail Morrow told Socialist Worker, “It was the first eviction we’ve been involved in.
“The anti-eviction army mobilised, and if we hadn’t this woman would be homeless.”
The tenant, who has asked not to be identified, went to see a friend on Thursday of last week. When she returned home the locks had been changed and two men were boarding up the windows.
When contacted, GHA—the giant housing association that runs all of Glasgow’s former council homes—let her in briefly. Its housing officers came accompanied by cops.
They left her in tears on the street with only her handbag and nowhere to go. But she was put in contact with the Federation, an organisation bringing together local anti bedroom tax groups across Scotland.
Two hours later there were more than 30 supporters outside her home.
The Federation enlisted the Govan Law Centre and local councillors to take the case to the landlords.
Scottish National Party (SNP) councillor Jim Torrance told Socialist Worker, “When I arrived the lady had been out of the house for hours on a freezing cold day.
“GHA told me she should go to a homeless shelter. But that would have changed her status and she’d never have seen the home again.”
Eventually GHA agreed to put the tenant and her son into a hotel overnight until a meeting on Friday morning. Around 20 protesters lobbied outside the meeting, where the tenant was finally allowed her keys back.
The eviction was over rent arrears partly due to the bedroom tax. The hated tax came into force against poor council and housing association tenants in April.
This tenant, like thousands of others hit by the bedroom tax, was in arrears before April.
But she was paying them back weekly—until the new tax made that impossible and the arrears shot up.
“GHA called me to insist it wasn’t a bedroom tax issue,” said Jim. “The bedroom tax is a horrible attack on the poorest. So they had got a lot of bad publicity over this.
“But I told them I couldn’t say it wasn’t a bedroom tax issue, when the bedroom tax was a key part of the reason to go for eviction.”
The case shows what landlords whose tenants are hit by the tax will resort to. But it also shows how to stop them.
Labour needs to do more on bedroom tax
MPS voted to keep the bedroom tax on Tuesday of last week.
The government’s majority was cut down to two as Liberal Democrats rebelled.
But 47 Labour MPs didn’t bother to turn up.
They did so in “pairing” with 47 Tory MPs. This is considered a “gentlemen’s” agreement for less important debates.
Labour has said it will scrap the bedroom tax if elected in 2015. The SNP has said it will axe it if it wins Scottish independence in 2014.
But both parties could do much more to scrap the bedroom tax now.