An account of the resistance building against the Bedroom Tax in the UK.
It’s been 12 days since a public meeting was held in Liverpool to decide what to do about the Bedroom Tax. The overwhelming response from the packed out tenants meeting was one of militant resistance. Since then, tenant meetings have been set up across Liverpool to network social housing tenants against a shocking attack on the welfare of the working class.
The Bedroom Tax affects nearly 700,000 people in the UK. From the 1st of April 2013, tenants of housing associations & social landlords will be hit by a possible 25% cut in their housing benefit if they under-occupy their home. This means: 1 spare room will see a 14% reduction in housing benefit; 2 spare rooms will see a 25% reduction in housing benefit. Many tenants will be expected to uproot their families, move away from their communities, their support networks and downsize to properties that simply do not exist; those who decide to stay will be constantly battling to make up the shortfall in rent. This should not be a question of move or stay; it should be about refusing to pay the tax full stop.
Yet, State and landlord ultimatums of ‘stay & pay’ or ‘move’ have disempowered tenants and landed the blame of a fictitious housing crisis at their doorsteps. Housing Associations (HA’s) wasted time lobbying a political Men’s club immersed in escalating the divide between the rich and the poor. Instead of flatly rejecting the Bedroom Tax in defence of tenants, HA’s petitioned those in power to be ‘reasonable’ —a petition that smacked of complicity. That complicity continues as HA’s now prepare to implement and collect the Bedroom Tax for their own ends and the governments.
Social Housing is being privatised; it’s written all over the faces of the ministers and chief executives who in the same turn ‘console’ tenants who are self-evicting or who will eventually be evicted. This is nothing other than contempt for tenants and we, as tenants, must make a stand against this contemptible tax and its architects.
We argue that a stand now against the Bedroom Tax, based on solidarity and direct action, will put down roots of resistance to allow us to better defend ourselves against a broader attack that extends well beyond 2013. Refusing to pay is a big step for tenants to take, but by standing together we will be stronger and can support each other. If we do nothing now, the repercussions of the Bedroom Tax will cause greater hardship & increased evictions in the run-up to the implementation of Universal Credit.
Let’s show the government, housing associations, collection officers and bailiffs that we won’t be fucked with.