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Bedroom tax trap
I have a relative who rents a two- bedroom flat from Worcestershire Council. Her son moved out over two years ago, and she has been bidding for a one-bedroom flat as she cannot afford the vicious 'bedroom tax' the Tories imposed.
She works, but only on the national minimum wage, and her council tax is far too high. By the time rent, utility bills and council tax are paid, she struggles with grocery shopping.
She is stuck in a vicious circle as she wants to downsize but because she is a widow with no dependants, she is not a priority. She's a 'Jam' (just about managing).
She would love a young family to have her flat, but with a bidding system that is so complicated, and a lack of affordable housing being built or existing properties being rejuvenated, I sense the problem will worsen before it gets better.
Calvin Fowler, Worcester
Mansions v evictions
Two articles in the Observer on 5 March highlighted the Britain we live in today.
On the one hand over 200 wealthy oligarchs choose to pay £218,200 in tax rather than to declare which £20 million-plus mega-mansions they own. There are 210 properties worth more than £20 million owned for these people by offshore companies.
On the other hand, for the many who have to work to survive, housing benefit has been frozen by the Tories. George Osborne, previous Tory chancellor, capped housing benefit payments as part of the Tory aim to cut welfare.
Shelter, the housing charity, has warned that families will have to find hundreds of pounds extra every month to avoid eviction. Shelter found that in one in four areas of England the combination of rising rents and the benefit freeze means families with one or two children living in a two-bedroomed home and claiming housing benefit will have to find at least £100 extra rent a month over the next year!
Evictions will rise significantly as a result of these vicious attacks, and as a result local authorities will have to provide emergency accommodation, which is often unsuitable. We are in a housing crisis where working class people are forced into expensive rented accommodation and then evicted when they can't afford increased rents.
We need a massive programme of building council accommodation. We demand that Labour and Plaid Cymru councils and the assembly implement no-cuts budgets using their reserves and borrowing powers, linking up with the trade unions to build a campaign of mass resistance to kick out the Tories.
Mark Evans, Gorseinon, west Wales
Tory terror hypocrisy
News of the 22 March attack in London shocked the country. It also sent establishment politicians clamouring for the media spotlight, seeking to define the narrative which came out of the events.
The prime minister, Theresa May: "We will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart."
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron: "At times like this, we must remember who we are. Britain is an open, tolerant country and we will never let those who spread terror and threaten our values win."
Labour's Hilary 'Bomber' Benn: "As we grieve for the fallen and the injured, let us honour them with renewed resolve to uphold our way of life and our democracy."
We've heard a lot of this stuff about unity over recent days, and we've heard it all before. And each time one of these platitudes passes through their quivering lips, it is not comfort or pride which overcomes me. It is sickness.
It sickens me to hear appeals for unity from the very people who cynically use race, religion, gender, sexuality to divide us. From the very people who, through their wars and austerity, make attacks inevitable.
This 'don't let them divide us' is the language of the international working class. It is the language of solidarity, cynically coopted by establishment politicians for short-term gain.
In reality, there is no "we" which includes both the working class and the representatives of big business. Our interests are fundamentally opposed.
If we are to overcome the perpetual state of war, terror, poverty, and suffering which engulfs the world, the working class must forge an independent path. This means real solidarity with the victims of the attack, by refusing unity with the architects of human suffering, be they Isis or the capitalists.
And this is just one more reason why Jeremy Corbyn, Labour's anti-war leader, urgently needs to break with the warmongering Blairites who continue to dominate the parliamentary Labour Party.
Tom Barker, Leicester
Thanks to the Socialists
I would just like to extend my thanks to Salford Socialist Party member Paul Gerrard, who took the time to meet with me on 20 March to discuss me potentially joining the party in the near future.
While I have previously attempted to get active in the local Labour Party and Momentum, I have seen my efforts ignored. Paul, however, was quick to respond to my interest in the Socialist Party with an offer to meet up, and thoroughly and enthusiastically answered all my questions about membership and the party's ideas.
If you are willing to donate time, effort and money to the politics you feel passionate about, then I believe the organisation in question should respond as Paul and the Socialist Party have.
I now feel more than ever a strong solidarity with the Socialist Party, and predict either joining, or at the very least exploring the possibility further, in the near future.
Thank you again Paul.
Jordan Lee Smith, Manchester/Sheffield
In The Socialist 29 March 2017:
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Russian revolution 1917-2017
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