Campaign to Stop Bedroom Tax Evictions!

31st May 2013

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From the Socialist newspaper 29 May

Less than two months after being introduced, the bedroom tax is already causing the chaos campaigners predicted it would.

Since 1 April housing benefit has been slashed for council or housing association tenants who the millionaire Con-Dem ministers claim have 'spare' bedrooms. To avoid this tenants are told to move or they face massive increases in the amount of rent they are expected to cover.

Some councils and housing associations are warning tenants who aren't able to pay that they could be evicted after just one month's rent being short. Nearly a thousand people have received notice of arrears letters in Bradford. In Brighton, an anti-bedroom tax campaigner has been threatened with eviction, despite the Green Party-led council previously promising no evictions because of the bedroom tax.

Battles ahead

This shows the bitter battles that lie ahead for anti-bedroom tax campaigns. We need to build anti-eviction 'armies' on every estate, ready to lobby courts and to physically defend tenants against bailiffs if necessary. This also means that campaigners and tenants need to get to know the legal position on evictions for rent arrears, which some of the articles on this page outline.

Con-Dem politicians claim the bedroom tax is needed because it's unfair that people who claim benefits have 'spare' bedrooms paid for by the public purse. But the question they all fail to answer is where they want people to move to. Councils certainly don't have spare smaller housing for all those affected. In fact the housing shortage is so bad that it was recently reported that Newham council in east London has moved people needing emergency accommodation 100 miles away to cram them into B&Bs in Birmingham.

Some Labour politicians have spoken out against the tax - but will they also 'walk the walk'? Labour could kill off the bedroom tax today if it wished, by pledging that a future Labour government would scrap it and bail out councils who have refused to implement it. Councils can use prudential borrowing powers and reserves to cover the shortfall in the meantime. They should link up with local campaigns to build a mass movement to defeat the tax.

But so far only six Labour councillors in Labour councils have voted against the cuts - and they have been suspended and expelled from the Labour Party, an indication of the Labour leadership's real attitude to the bedroom tax and other cuts.

There are enough resources in society to provide a decent, affordable home for all. The Socialist Party is campaigning around the country for the bedroom tax to be scrapped. We want councils to pledge not to implement the cut and not to evict those who can't pay.

If they don't, we will stand candidates against them as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition at the next election. We call for huge investment in a programme to regenerate empty housing and to build new houses to match demand.

See www.socialistparty.org.uk for campaign reports and other bedroom tax news. Get in touch for leaflets, posters and other campaign material:

Keep reading here for more reports including practical tips on fighting the bedroom tax at each stage of the process.
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