Thursday, 21 March 2013

Thousands threatened with eviction in UK by Tory 'Bedroom Tax'!

Opposition to the Tories iniquitous bedroom tax is increasing daily. Although there have been no riots as of yet, parallels have never the less been drawn with the campaign against Thatcher's dreaded poll tax, which was ultimately defeated because of mass opposition to it by people who took to the streets in their thousands to protest.

In the North West 43% of people living in council or housing association homes who receive housing benefit will be affected. Around 110,000 will be worse off by £728 a year when the bedroom tax comes into effect in April. Hundreds of thousands face the threat of eviction if they cannot pay the tax which applies to all people of working age in receipt of housing benefit who live in social housing and who are deemed to have spare bedrooms.

Although the Tory-led government say this measure is necessary to free-up social housing that is under-occupied i.e. spare bedrooms so that people can move to smaller dwellings and to save money, the current demand for housing is such that there are not enough one or two bedroom properties for people to move to. Critics of the bedroom tax, say this severe shortage of social rented housing, will drive people into the private rented sector and will increase the housing benefit bill.

In Tameside, the Registered Social Landlord (RSL), New Charter Housing Trust Ltd, own around 14,500 properties and it is expected that the bedroom tax will have a direct impact on 1,700 New Charter tenants. New Charter boss, Ian Munro, believes that the tax is 'unfair and incompetent' and he has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to axe the bedroom tax. In his letter which was published in the New Charter owned Tameside Reporter, he pleaded on behalf of his tenants:

"Tenants are telling us that they are very worried not only about being able to meet household bills, but also the prospect of being forced out of what is more than a house - it is their home....Equally (the changes) are incompetent as they will not achieve the Government's objective of better use of social housing, and in forcing a migration to the private sector will increase rather than reduce the Housing Benefit bill."

Some time ago, New Charter which was formed in 2000, to own and manage former council homes in Tameside, set up a 'Specialist Welfare Reform Advice Team' (SWAT) to advise tenants about their available options concerning the bedroom tax. Although neither Munro or the SWAT 'sink or swim' team, have given assurances that tenants who fail pay their bedroom tax will not be evicted, it is known that the team who have carried out 1,800 tenant interviews since last August, have advised tenants to eat less to economise in order to pay their Tory bedroom tax. In Manchester, Eastlands Homes another RSL, have written to their tenants asking them if they can afford to smoke, drink, play bingo and afford Sky TV, as well as pay their bedroom tax.

While it is understandable that New Charter and Eastlands Homes tenants should feel affronted by being asked to eat less food or to forgo fags and booze to pay their Tory bedroom tax, it should be clear that despite what boy George says about us all being in it together, it is people on benefits, public expenditure cuts and job losses in local government that are paying off the budget deficit brought about by the incompetence and greed of bankers and governments. Despite cuts in benefits and public services, the government last year cut  taxes for their rich chums by £3bn-a-year. In April, 8,000 millionaires are due to receive an average tax cut of over £107,000. It  also estimated that tax evasion in this country costs the exchequer around £70bn-a-year in lost revenue.

One New Charter tenant affected by the Tory bedroom tax, is 56-year-old Steve Fisher, from Dukinfield, who has lived at his two bedroom home since 1984. As a self-employed person who currently receives £52 pw in Working Tax Credit (WTC), he has been told by Tameside Council that he must pay £12 pw bedroom tax because he has a bedroom extra to his needs and £13 pw council tax, out of his £52 pw income. Mr. Fisher who is campaigning against the bedroom tax, told NV blog:

"Under the Council Tax Benefit scheme (CTB), which has now been abolished, I received full council tax and housing benefit because I am on a low income. Some years ago, I chose to go self-employed rather than claim unemployment benefit, but am now penalised by changes to council tax and the introduction of the bedroom tax. Tameside Council have replaced CTB with their very own 'Council Tax Support Scheme' (CTSS) which presumes that as a self-employed person, I am receiving a far greater income that I do and therefore, they expect me to pay full council tax. As from April, everyone with exception of pensioners, who is in receipt of a council tax discount, will have pay at least 20% of council tax. This measure introduced by a Labour council, attacks some of the weakest and poorest members of the community.  Although the Labour council in Tameside are cutting jobs and services and increasing the council tax this year by 3.5%, the council refuses to reduce the number of Tameside councillors or to cut its own allowances and perks. What this council and government are seeking to do, is nothing short of daylight robbery."

Anyone interested in joining Mr. Fisher's campaign against the bedroom tax, can contact him at


Anonymous said...

Well New Charter Housing Trust have just evicted a 78 year old couple for not paying bedroom tax which they couldn't afford. The local authority are now paying for this very old frail couple to live in the travel lodge in Ashton under lyne at 4 times the housing benefit costs. Where is the logic, incidentally these people had been tenants for 30+ years. Cruel Broken Britain

NV Editor said...

We would be interested to know more about this couple for a story. We did understand that the bedroom tax didn't apply to pensioners. Perhaps, you can enlighten us?