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Bedroom Tax edges toward its doom
...but tenants still suffer
Bedroom tax - can't pay, won't leave: Glasgow demonstration against the bedroom tax and austerity 30 March 2013 , photo Jim Halfpenny
If a man dives headlong into a cesspool and then clambers out of it, the first thing he will do is find a way to wash his face and hands. This is what Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has tried to do by supporting the 'Affordable Housing' Bill, a private member's bill which got a majority in the House of Commons at its first reading on 5 May, to the fury of the Conservative party.
If it becomes law the bill will mean that only people who refuse a reasonable offer of alternative housing will be affected by the Bedroom Tax. Given the shortage of smaller properties this would be a big step towards abolishing the hated measure, which has cut an average of £16 a week from the income of 500,000 of Britain's poorest households.
There is a long way to go before the bill becomes law. It does, however, mean that the bedroom tax will be in the public eye repeatedly until the coming general election. Whether this will do Clegg's gang any good is doubtful as the Bedroom Tax could never have been born without the support of Lib Dem MPs.
While the Lib Dems, cynically, have been 'reconsidering', around 100 tenants have been evicted and 22,000 have been forced to move out of their homes. The rest have either racked up rent arrears or have gone without essentials to make their payments.
Labour and Lib Dem councils, just like the Tories, have been willing to threaten tenants with eviction to force them to cough up. It has driven at least one person to suicide and countless more to the food banks.
It's a tribute to the efforts of socialists and community activists that there is any prospect of defeating the tax, as they have campaigned, lobbied, protested and taken direct action to defend those affected for over a year, without any real help from the Labour Party, let alone the Lib Dems. We must keep up the pressure, linking the tax to the other benefit cuts and austerity measures which all of the main parties support. They are all dirty.
In The Socialist 10 September 2014:
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