Fight to Scrap Bedroom Tax is Underway in Swansea
31st March 2013
60-70 protesters against the bedroom tax rallied in Swansea today (30th March) as the fight not only against the bedroom tax itself but also to defend those who risk being its victims in the city got underway. The rally was addressed by 2 Labour MPs, Geraint Davies of Swansea West and Nia Griffiths of Llanelli, addressed the rally. Both demanded that the bedroom tax be scrapped, a position opposed to that expressed by shadow cabinet member, Helen Goodman, in an interview in which she suggested that the Labour Party felt it was alright to impose a reformed version of the bedroom tax on households that refused a transfer to a smaller property.
I spoke on behalf of Swansea Trades Council to call for the Labour Council to refuse to implement the bedroom tax, suggesting they could simply re-classify properties as single-bedroom. Geraint Davies MP did suggest that the Council look to remove partition walls to make rooms single bedroom where possible but in fact there is no need to alter peoples’ homes; a property has as many bedrooms as the landlord says and elsewhere council and housing association landlords have taken this step without the need to tear down walls in somebody’s home.
As an absolute minimum, I challenged councillors to publicly commit to refusing to evict people for being unable to pay the bedroom tax. Despite there being around a half dozen councillors from the ruling Labour group present and despite being invited by Louise, who had called the rally and compered it, to respond, none were willing to make such a commitment or even to make a statement.
If the council won’t defend the victims of the bedroom tax then campaigners will have to do it ourselves but we won’t let them off the hook either. The Swansea Anti-Cuts Campaign meets on Wednesday to consider how we can pressure the council and other social housing providers into adopting these positions and how, in the meantime, we defend those facing demands they just can’t meet or even eviction from their homes.