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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 February 2016

Protesting about a bedroom tax case

Protesting about a bedroom tax case   (Click to enlarge)

Bedroom Tax ruling: The fight to scrap it must continue

Cathy Meadows, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Scrap the Bedroom Tax, Defend Council Tax Benefits campaign

Words alone won't get rid of the bedroom tax. "I'm registered disabled - will I still have to pay bedroom tax?... Is the bedroom tax illegal, now?"... "Has the bedroom tax been stopped?"

Some of the questions desperate people (struggling to survive after nearly three years of the tax) asked me after the Court of Appeal recently ruled that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminated against two households.

Liable

I had to tell people that the bedroom tax is still here and even if the government loses an appeal, the ruling only affects two specific groups - severely disabled children needing overnight care, and victims of domestic violence living in specially adapted accommodation.

Not only that, until the households in that group prove they are exempt, they will still be liable for the bedroom tax.

The process of proving exemption is usually time consuming, stressful, may have to involve social services and other agencies as well as advice agencies and/or solicitors. What a waste of time, energy and peace of mind for some of the most vulnerable in society.

The bedroom tax does not address the causes of the housing shortage (lack of social and affordable housing being built), and neither does it address the increased housing benefit bill (caused by landlords' exploitation of housing shortages and poverty).

Instead it creates poverty and debt, affects people's mental health, and has even led to suicides.

When I heard that Jeremy Corbyn and the leader of our Labour-run council were only "calling" for the bedroom tax to be scrapped, my heart sank. Where's the fight? Where's the urgency? Does anyone seriously believe that you will get the government to do a u-turn on the bedroom tax by "calling" for it, or even by hassling the prime minister in Parliament?

Words without action are ineffective and can give people false hope. If Labour is serious about getting rid of this bully's policy, Labour-led councils have the power to do it.

Labour councils

Just imagine if all Labour-led councils announced a 'no evictions' policy and non-pursuit of people in rent arrears because of the bedroom tax.

This would be an immediate massive relief for households currently having to choose between fuel, food and bills. It would also empower them to begin a non-payment campaign.

If councils also mobilised community groups, campaigns, homelessness organisations, women's groups, disabled groups and trade unions to support the campaign, any shortfall in their funds caused by non-payment could be demanded from the government. This is the kind of strategy needed to get rid of the bedroom tax now.

A cruel and vindictive tax

Frances McCormack, facing eviction the next day due to the bedroom tax, hanged herself in the same room where her son had committed suicide in 2013, an inquest was told.

Beside her body was a handwritten note which addressed Tory prime minister David Cameron on the hardship caused by the tax.

Introduced in April 2013 by millionaire Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith (who lived rent free), low income social housing tenants lose housing benefit if they are deemed to have a 'spare room'.

As a result many vulnerable tenants have faced eviction and homelessness. And far from reducing the housing benefit bill as the government claimed, the overall bill has soared as low income people are forced into the hands of private landlords.

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In The Socialist 3 February 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Solidarity with health workers

Tax the 1%

Bedroom Tax ruling: The fight to scrap it must continue

Air pollution destroys more lives and homes

Conservatives have no interest in collecting corporation taxes

Them & Us


Readers' comments and reviews

Private renting: Unfit homes and couch surfing

Witty take on credit crunch misses problems at heart of capitalism

Arrested 'Heathrow 13' climate activist speaks

Letters


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight to save Huddersfield A&E

Angry south Londoners march against the housing bill

Newham Labour disunited against austerity

Councillor suspended after cuts query: activists seek joint work

Wakefield tells big business to frack-off!

Celebrating the revolutionary life of Robert Burns

Fighting to save the last two play centres


Socialist Party features

World economy heading into a storm

Zika virus: Another healthcare system failure


Workplace news

Fight to save 1,550 finance jobs in Surrey

Tories axe 310 jobs in Northern powerhouse

London Transport workers braced for huge cuts in spending

Tories are taking London taxi drivers for a ride

Crane drivers' strike for pay rise

Tesco slashes pay for thousands of workers

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Japan: The failure of 'Abenomics'

CWI world congress success


 

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Related links:

Tax:

triangleNewham council tax workers' pay victory

triangleEaling tax office workers strike against closure

triangleSadiq Khan "out-Tories" himself to defend tech firms' tax bonanza

triangleShell pays 0 corporation tax, and plans huge hike in fossil output

Bedroom tax:

triangleTory on homeless: "tear down these tents"

triangleThem & us

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories out! Corbyn can win with socialist policies

Housing:

triangle20 years of housing failure

triangleHackney: We don't want homes and retail units working-class people can't afford

triangleThem & Us

Housing benefit:

triangleHousing arrears double, suicide risk soars - scrap Universal Credit!

triangleUniversal Credit could trap women in violent relationships

Households:

triangleWhat we saw

Tenants:

triangleHow working-class tenants beat Gentrification

Homelessness:

triangleUnsafe, unaffordable housing scandal

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