Join the Fight Against the Bedroom Tax
Calderdale Council voted to oppose the Bedroom Tax at the Council meeting on 24 April. Full text of motion here.
Calderdale Council Cabinet question following this motion May 2013 here
The occupants of 900,000 social housing properties including 1,500 families here in Calderdale will face an unenviable choice in April. Because they have a “spare” bedroom they will either have to accept a cut in their housing benefit of £700 a year or face eviction from their homes.
Hundreds of thousands of people are living in fear. Benefit cuts will push them over the edge financially and the prospect of leaving their friends, families and communities behind to find accommodation elsewhere is so stressful it is affecting their mental health with some feeling suicidal.
This is the reality of the “under occupancy” charge – which will forever be known as the Bedroom Tax.
Of course there is no problem under occupying if you are rich. Housing minister Lord Adonis who made his fortune in banking has a £2m house in London and a spacious country house in Kent for the weekend. Adonis advised a young working single father on housing benefit on national radio that if he couldn’t afford to take a benefit cut and didn’t want to lose his spare bedroom so his two children could stay with him at weekends he should buy a pull out sofa.
The bedroom tax is one step too far. It is as cruel and callous as it is unfair. It hits out at the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society. There are 250,000 “under occupiers” who have disabilities and therefore specific housing needs which can’t easily be met in smaller accommodation. 25% of tenants facing cuts or eviction are lone parents. Young people who have left home to study or train for employment and want to return home and can’t afford private rents or to get on the housing ladder won’t be able to. There are several reports of parents who have recently lost children to illness being unable to keep their rooms while they grieve.
Everyone wants to see a fair distribution of social housing but this is not what the bedroom tax is about – it is simply yet another deeply cynical move from a morally bankrupt government, which thinks the poor and vulnerable should be the ones to pay for the failings of the elite.
Here’s what the government won’t tell us:
- Housing benefit costs are so high because nothing has been done to stop property prices and rents soaring out of control and beyond the means of working families.
- 70% of housing benefit claimants in social housing are in work. They can’t afford the rent because they are on low wage incomes while the cost of everything else goes up.
- The discretionary funding safety net the government claim will help those who will suffer is tiny and temporary. It will be nowhere near enough to go round – tens of thousands of people will be facing eviction for rent arrears.
Not only is the tax unfair – it will do nothing to alleviate overcrowding. As a result of decades of failing to invest in affordable social housing there is an acute shortage of 1 or 2 bedroom properties for people to move into. In Hull, for instance, some 4000 “under occupying” families would have to squeeze into only 73 available smaller properties or seek private rentals at much higher rates they can’t afford.
It’s the same everywhere – many people simply won’t move because they can’t. This is what the government is waiting for – the perfect excuse to steal the benefits of the working poor, single parents, the unemployed and the disabled to pay for the crisis their rich friends caused in the first place.
Join the fight against the Bedroom Tax
For many people the Bedroom Tax is the last straw in the wave of austerity measures which force ordinary people to pay for the economic crisis they are not responsible for – and they have had enough.
Up and down the country the bedroom tax has become a focus for the anger people feel. MP’s have been bombarded with concerns and complaints, local councillors have been petitioned to show their opposition to the tax. There are campaigns calling on local councils and social landlords such as Pennine Housing and Yorkshire Housing to refuse to evict those who fall into arrears, motions demanding action from the unions and demonstrations in over 60 towns and cities.
Anti-Bedroom Tax groups are springing up everywhere – often led and organised by ordinary people within their own communities who do not see themselves as political activists and who have not previously been active in protest groups or organised demonstrations.
Opposition to the Bedroom Tax can bring together the anger that so many people feel and unite us in a common cause that we can win. Already, the government is beginning to backtrack on the Bedroom Tax and the more voices that are heard and the more action that is taken in Calderdale and nationally the greater chance we have of forcing back this barbaric legislation.