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Bedroom Tax update

Sunday, 23 February 2014 17:21
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In September 2013, the Stroud News and Journal reported that "Out of the 347 council tenants in the Five Valleys affected by the controversial changes to housing benefit, a total of 120 have fallen behind with their rent payments" (More recently, The Citizen reported that 238 families in Gloucester are spiralling into debt as rent arrears total £25,000 since April 2013).

Stroud Against the Cuts worked with Unite Community to collect 1200 signatures calling for, amongst other things, a policy of no evictions (as has been adopted by other councils) and the cancellation of rent arrears resulting from the bedroom tax. This was enough signatures to trigger a debate at a Stroud District Council meeting, which you can watch here (the Bedroom Tax petition debate begins at 33:45).

Following the council meeting, on the 6th December 2013, Stroud Against the Cuts sent the following letter to the local press. Below the letter is the latest information from the Anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation.


Over the last few months Stroud Against the Cuts and Unite Community collected 1200 signatures on a petition for Stroud District Council to adopt a policy of ‘no evictions’ and ‘cancellation of rent arrears’ due to the Bedroom Tax. Such a policy could have helped alleviate some of the stress and misery the bedroom tax is causing to the most vulnerable. Cuts in housing benefit due to the bedroom tax mean many are unable to afford their rent, building up debts through no fault of their own. People are worrying about future eviction or being forced to move away from their networks of friends and support.

We met many people who were prepared to downsize, but were stuck because of the lack of smaller social properties. The council has admitted it does not have enough suitable homes. Why should people be financially penalised for this?

We met a couple who didn’t want to move from Dursley, where they had family and friends, to Brockworth, where they are isolated.

Two thirds of those affected are disabled. At the meeting we gave an example of a disabled woman living on her own, who has been forced to postpone critical surgery because of the uncertainty surrounding where she will be living, due to the Bedroom Tax. The operation has a two year recovery period, during which moving house would be impossible. She can’t face the thought of moving, losing her possessions and pets. It is this human misery that gets forgotten when some of those opposed to the petition resort to petty political name calling.  To people like her refusing help on the basis that it ‘treats the symptoms not the cause’ and that the only solution is to ‘vote Labour in two years time’ sounds like hollow electioneering. 

At the council meeting Labour councillors claimed they had an ‘unwritten’ no evictions policy, but this won’t alleviate the stress of the vulnerable people affected. The tax only came into force in April, as arrears build an ‘unwritten’ policy can easily be changed. They weren’t even prepared to simply send a letter of condemnation about the tax to Parliament.

Instead, Labour councillors voted with the Tories and against the Green motion to publically state no evictions would be made and to write to the Secretary of State calling for the bedroom tax to be scrapped.

They were dismissive and insulting about the 1200 strong petition co-presented by Unite the Union.  Unite is the biggest public sector trade union and supports a policy of ‘no evictions’. Labour’s argument that those affected by the tax could not be given special treatment because it would be unfair to others in rent arrears for other reasons is simply an argument for inaction, while claiming to oppose a brutally unfair tax. Would it mean that those opposing privatisation could not be supported if another privatisation could not be halted elsewhere? It’s a ludicrous argument.

In the end SDC have refused to help some of the most disadvantaged people in the Stroud area. Stroud Against the Cuts is not aligned to any political party, and welcome any of those affected by the bedroom tax, or concerned about the impact of cuts and privatisation generally to get involved in campaigning with us: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / 07583 497887.


Yours sincerely,

Chris Moore, James Beecher, Caroline Molloy, Hannah Basson, Steve Hunter, Christine Stockwell (members of the Stroud Against the Cuts co-ordination group)

Latest from anti Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Federation:
"Pressure is punching holes in the Bedroom Tax.  The Bedroom Tax is 
dead in Scotland - see story here and tenants are winning legal challenges.

* Every tenant can claim, appeal, protest - get the word out. The latest legal rulings say separated parents are each entitled to a bedroom for their children- separated parents see here; a bedroom is defined by how you use it - Bolton decision here and use see here;  small rooms do not count - size see here; the Pre-1996 rule means long term tenants on Housing Benefit can reclaim any amount lost due to the bedroom tax- see here
* Demand Council informs tenants of Discretionary Housing Payments and of exemptions and appeal grounds.  And instruct landlords to do same before threatening eviction - see

* Organise for the Day of Protest 5 April - one year too long for Bedroom Tax - End it Now!   Marches and protests happening in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Ashfield, Harlow, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Southend, across London etc.


Please get in touch:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 07583 497887 if you are affected by the bedroom tax or know someone who is and need advice on if and how you can challenge it.

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 February 2014 21:45