Stop the Bedroom Tax - Hands Off our Homes!

24th April 2013

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Politicians keep inviting us to feel sorry for them as they have to make tough choices - choices of whose jobs, whose terms and conditions, whose services to cut. That's not a tough choice as far as we're concerned. If you represent working class people you don't make cuts.

People who do face real tough choices are those who live in the 660,000 households affected by the bedroom tax. They face choices like: "Do I try to pay my increased housing costs or put food on the table? Will I face the threat of eviction for being behind in my rent or will my family go hungry?"

A large portion of the victims of the bedroom tax are disabled; 63% of affected households have one or more disabled person. Stephen Palmer of Merthyr is being charged bedroom tax but his 'spare' bedroom isn't empty - it is filled to the brim with his essential kidney dialysis equipment!

At a public meeting, Peter explained that he has an autistic son who, although living in residential care, regularly stays overnight. The nature of his illness means that maintaining a familiar layout to the home and, in particular to his bedroom is extremely important. Moving out of the family home of 31 years is not an option.

The bedroom tax is supposed to be about maximising the use of existing social housing, by 'encouraging' people to downsize. If you are poor, receive housing benefit and in social housing, you now have no right to be secure in a home filled with family memories and part of a community, surrounded by friends and neighbours. If the size of your household changes through kids growing up, hospitalisation or even bereavement, you are expected to move or pay a huge penalty.

Even if you don't mind moving, in many parts of the country finding smaller accommodation is impossible. According to Welsh local authorities, there are just 400 single-bedroom properties in social housing in the whole of Wales and four (out of 22) council areas have no single-bedroom homes available. And there's no help with the substantial costs of moving anyway.

A month into the bedroom tax, thousands of people are finding they can't pay. It is perhaps the single most blatant attack on the poorest in our communities. It has to be fought along with the whole raft of Con-Dem cuts.

Ronnie Job, Swansea
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