Most people affected by the bedroom tax have stayed in their homes, according to new research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Around half of them are in arrears as a result.
Campaigners protested outside Basildon County Court in Essex last Friday, where the council brought possession proceedings against Theresa and Bill Whitby.
“I actually had a panic attack when I received the notice to seek possession,” said Theresa. “This has been a very hard time.”
The couple have tried to downsize, but not enough smaller properties exist.
Their rent problems began when lorry driver Bill lost his licence due to diabetes and have spiralled due to the bedroom tax.
Some 22 percent of those still affected by the tax are still waiting for a smaller home. Only 6 percent of those originally affected have successfully moved.
The bedroom tax was expected to affect 660,000 households, but the real figure was 559,000. That means it will save much less than the government predicted.
Most of these, some 498,000, are still affected—and the bill for discretionary housing payments (DHP) and court proceedings is growing.
The report raises problems that make the tax unfair and potentially unworkable—as Socialist Worker has argued all along.
There were also protests in Manchester. Chris Burton took the council to court for adding an unwanted bedroom to his flat in 2009—then taxing him on it.
More than 50 people from around Greater Manchester protested at less than 24 hours notice on Thursday of last week outside a home in Salford.
They won a stay of execution for a tenant with arrears partly due to the bedroom tax.
“It’s a testament to how caring people are that they would do this for a stranger,” said campaigner Mark Krantz.
“But our real success has been the political campaign against the bedroom tax. We have made it untenable for councillors to support eviction proceedings due to the tax.”
Police dragged away and arrested protesters who were trying to prevent the eviction of a mentally ill man in Camden, central London, last week.
The Basildon court granted a suspended possession order to give the Whitbys more time. Campaigner Dave Murray explained, “There were actually 36 evictions listed for today and 35 were withdrawn. The arrears were solely due to the bedroom tax and councillors said it would be ‘politically unviable’ to proceed.”
The couple were grateful for the support they received. Bill said “It shows you that you’re not alone and it gives you more confidence to fight.
“People who I’ve never met have come to stand with us and it means a lot.”
Campaigner Terry Patrick said “This shows that the best way to deal with this is to fight back. The more noise you make the more chance you have of winning.”