Around 1,000 people marched through the streets of Leeds today, Saturday, against the Tories’ hated bedroom tax.
They included many council and housing association tenants who are already in arrears on their rent thanks to the tax, which came into effect on 1 April.
“We’ve been told my son and daughter have to share a room,” Emma from Halifax told Socialist Worker. “But he’s autistic, and if they share then neither of them will sleep.
“The housing association says I should pay the tax out of his disability living allowance, but I need that to pay for his support.”
Emma’s housing association is one of many that says it will evict tenants who go into arrears.
“I’m sick of being bullied and pushed around and told I have to pay this and that,” she said. “I’m going to appeal and keep appealing, and keep going to the meetings and protests.”
John Davies, chair of the Hands Off Our Homes campaign, read out a letter from another tenant who has a spare room since her son left home two years ago.
She has received a letter and a note this week warning she is now £31.59 in arrears as a result of the bedroom tax and the council tax benefit cut.
“It is hard for me to pay this amount,” she said. “I am ready to fight and not pay this fee if everybody does the same. However I can not blow against the wind by myself.”
And the biggest cheer went to tenant Liz Kitching of Hands Off Our Homes, who asked the crowd, “Why does Leeds City Council want me out of my home? Why can’t they turn around and say they won’t do a the Tories say?”
Hundreds more people marched in Birmingham and Manchester. Around 150 protesters in Cardiff heckled Nick Clegg as he left the Liberal Democrats’ Wales conference.
“This won’t be the last protest,” Liz promised. “We need to fight this like we fought the poll tax, until we’ve kicked that monster David Cameron out of office”.
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