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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 May 2013

Bedroom tax campaigning in Leytonstone, Birmingham and Newham

Diary of a bedroom tax campaigner

Ian Pattison, Waltham Forest Socialist Party and Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union describes a week of campaigning against the bedroom tax.

Monday

We type up all the names of people affected by the bedroom tax who we've met in the last week and their neighbours who are going to stand with them in solidarity, as they say in the Scottish campaign: 'I'll stand with you, if you stand with me'.

Tuesday

Like this time every week, some of us go out on the Avenue Road estate in Leytonstone, Waltham Forest, north east London.

We're taking people directly hit by the hated bedroom tax out canvassing with us for the first time. We sell ten copies of the Socialist in less than an hour.

We're advertising an estate meeting on Saturday. On the way back home we see our posters already plastered in windows.

Wednesday

3,000 people are affected by the bedroom tax in Waltham Forest. Tonight members are on the Wood Street estate in another part of the borough.

People are furious about the bedroom tax, but not just that - cuts, bankers' bonuses, everything!

Thursday

We're searching Waltham Forest council website, getting legal advice, and talking to other anti-bedroom tax campaigners across London and the country for ideas on how to clog up the system.

Tonight's discussion at Waltham Forest Socialist Party branch is about the bedroom tax. One member sets out our strategy to beat it, another explains a socialist plan to solve the housing crisis.

Friday

We go leafleting on the Avenue again. We sell another three copies of the Socialist, with a big front and centre pages on the bedroom tax - even though we're not knocking doors, we're only sticking leaflets through letter boxes! We meet another two people hit by the benefit cuts who tell us they will come on Saturday.

I go to visit one woman who has been to every meeting (but isn't directly affected). She's bought the Socialist paper twice, she's angry about everything the Tories are doing, so this time I ask her to join the Socialist Party.

She's going to think about it and we'll discuss again. On my way back, I meet a bedroom tax victim who's seen our placards before, him and his daughter take model letters to challenge the council's decision, and our latest poster.

Saturday

We hold our first Socialist Party stall in the Thatched House area (where the Avenue Road estate is).

People are surprised (but very pleased) to see us. We only get two bad responses. One woman is living in overcrowded accommodation, and hopes to benefit from emptied properties.

Once we explain the Socialist Party's demand for a massive house-building programme, she's soon won over, signs our petition, and buys a copy of the Socialist! The other heckler is a Tory councillor - they must be lost.

Ten new people come to our estate meeting, all angry, all women, but not all directly affected. Model letters to ask the council to 'look again', a form to record what bedroom tax they haven't paid, an explanation of how to apply for the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP), and plenty of leaflets and posters are distributed.

Everyone agrees to support each other against evictions and stand a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate in the 2014 elections.


Birmingham: punishing the poor for being poor

About 30 anti-bedroom tax protesters lobbied the advice surgery of Birmingham council Labour leader Sir Albert Bore, held in the splendour of Birmingham Council House where over 100 million of cuts were agreed this year.

Bore would only let two people in at a time, then it was reduced to one person at a time. Eventually the protesters were told that the police would be called if they didn't stop 'obstructing the entrance'.

According to one of the protesters who managed to see Bore, he emphatically stated that Birmingham council will evict people who fall into arrears because of the bedroom tax.

The council here is being harder than some non-Labour councils. Councillors appear to be going out of their way to punish the poor for being poor.

It is vital that there is a strong showing of anti-cuts candidates at next year's local elections.

Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party

Newham: bedroom tax will add to homelessness crisis

Ben Robinson, East London Socialist Party

It is estimated that Newham, east London, is the borough with the worst homelessness crisis in the country, spending 185.2 million on temporary accommodation since 2009.

However, with the introduction of the bedroom tax affecting an estimated 3,000 homes in one of the poorest boroughs in the country, this looks set to increase.

Newham Council is dominated by the Labour Party, but despite their formal opposition to the bedroom tax, it appears they are chomping at the bit to deepen the effects of this attack.

A recent council event to 'advise' those affected by the bedroom tax only advised people to apply to downsize or get more work.

This is despite the fact that among the people Newham Socialist Party met were families who had been waiting to move for eight years, and now, because of council inaction were faced with an extra charge they could not afford.

Not content with this, Newham council is also organising spot checks of social housing to check how many bedrooms people have, according to residents we met out campaigning. Pursuing this brutal charge shows the real anti-worker character of the Labour Party.

For more info on the local campaign see nobedroomtaxinnewham.wordpress.com


The chief executive of New Charter Housing Trust Group, the housing association which manages housing stock in one of the areas where Universal Credit is being trialled, has expressed concern over the effect of welfare reform on levels of debt for tenants.

The total amount of debt people have when they are referred to New Charter's advice service has increased by 19% in a year.

There has been a 338% increase in applications for discretionary housing payments since the bedroom tax was introduced.


Glasgow demo against the bedroom tax

Called by the All Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation
Saturday 1 June, Assemble 12pm, George Square

YouTube tip: search for "Coventry Against The Bedroom Tax - Bekir's Story"

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 22 May 2013:


Fight the bedroom tax

End this 'evil bedroom tax'

Anti-bedroom tax federation launched in Merseyside

Bedroom tax campaigning in Leytonstone, Birmingham and Newham


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories in turmoil over Europe

Big business tax avoidance scandal

Another blow for workfare

NHS staff under the cuts cosh

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

Fighting cuts in wales


International socialist news and analysis

South African economy: Mass sacking threat demands mass action

Sri Lanka: Isolate the murderous Rajapaksa regime


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Southampton TUSC rally

Anti-blacklisting campaigner run over

University backs down: students and workers win!

Support for Mid Yorkshire Health struggle in the Mirror

Strike against legal aid cuts

March against the G8

London Socialist Party regional conference


Socialist Party workplace news

Fighting back pays off: Thera East Midlands forced to make concessions

POA conference - Prisons should not be run for profit

Support Carling brewery workers at Burton-on-Trent

Sacked Tesco drivers on the march again

PCS members fight Land Registry privatisation

Firefighters prepare for pensions battle

Workplace news in brief


Readers' comments

Cuts kill: Con-Dem benefit 'reforms', mental health and suicide

Why I joined the socialists


 

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