NO TO THE BEDROOM TAX - DEFEND YOUR HOME
FOR INFO ON BOTH THE BEDROOM TAX, AND THE DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENT, SEE THE LINKS page.
THE BEDROOM TAX – DEFEND YOUR HOME
From 1st April the bedroom tax will hit many tenants in social housing who receive Housing Benefit and have a so-called extra bedroom. Housing Association and Council tenants who have one “extra” bedroom will lose 14% Housing Benefit, around £13 - £15 per week. Those with 2 or more “extra” bedrooms will suffer a 25% cut, about £20 - £27 per week. This applies if you are under 61 years and five months.
The majority affected are on disability benefits and it also hits the unemployed and many in low paid and/or part-time work. Many are going to be hit - around 5,500 households in Edinburgh, 670,000 households in the UK. If nothing is done, people are at high risk of going into rent arrears which could lead to eviction and homelessness.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS?
Already many round Edinburgh, Scotland and Britain are saying this is unfair, and are organising against the bedroom tax. We believe no-one should be made homeless because of rent arrears caused by benefit cuts. People need to organise in their communities to support each other and physically stop any evictions. When the sheriff officers came to our homes to seize goods for the poll tax, people sent them packing. Let's do it again!
If you are directly affected we would urge you to:
- Appeal against the decision. If you have disabilities and have an overnight carer stay, then you have a strong case. If you are not in this position, we think it a good idea to appeal anyway – you may not have much chance of winning the appeal, but it all helps put a spanner in the works and make the tax unworkable.
- Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. Forms obtainable from the Council, and we also have copies at our Tuesday solidarity sessions (12-3pm at ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place EH7 5HA ). Best to get advice on filling in form, you need to detail all reasons you cannot move and give full info on any illnesses/ disabilities.
- Join with people in your community to resist. Through local community resistance we can build up the power to stop any evictions. People are already organising in North Edinburgh, Leith, and Edinburgh East – see www.edinburghagainstcuts.org.uk – and people are starting to get active in Dumbiedykes, Moredun and other areas. If you would like to get something going in your area we will try our best to help, e.g. you can get cheap copying at the Autonomous Centre.
- Join the ECAP solidarity network: if anyone is threatened with eviction we will do a call-out for people to go to defend their home. The Network has already successfully taken action against other injustices, e.g. threats of sequestration over council tax arrears, demanding housing for a single parent family, etc. To join email your mobile number to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is all happening at a time when other benefits are being cut too. Disability Living Allowance is being replaced with Personal Independence Payments, involving a 20% cut. Austerity measures are adversely affecting many public services and most people's wages are falling in real terms. The rich are waging class war against us – we need to fight back, through independent grass-roots organising and direct action.
We cannot place any trust in political parties, all of whom aim to get into power to run the same exploiting system. For example the Labour Party's bogus “campaign” against the Bedroom Tax is linked to their proposal for compulsory labour under threat of benefits sanctions.
Already the authorities are getting worried. West Dunbartonshire, and Brighton Councils have said they will not carry out evictions for bedroom tax arrears, and Dundee Council have given that guarantee for the next 12 months. Anti cuts groups are demanding City of Edinburgh Council guarantee no evictions for their tenants who are in rent arrears due to the bedroom tax and a petition to this effect is due to be presented to the CEC petitions committee on 18 April 2013.
We believe the best way to convince Councils not to carry out evictions is to make it clear that any attempt to throw people onto the streets will be met by mass blockades to defend tenants' homes. Plus don't forget many affected are Housing Association tenants - we must stop ALL evictions due to the cuts, whoever the landlord may be.
And what's more - we need to fight for the write-off of all rent arrears arising from the bedroom tax.