Exeter rally against "unfair and perverse" bedroom tax
A protest rally took place in Exeter yesterday against new rules which leave people claiming housing benefits facing deductions for spare rooms.
Over 150 people attended the 'Bedroom Tax' rally in Bedford Square in Exeter City Centre with banners and megaphones at the ready.
At the protest was Ian Martin, Labour and Cooperative Councillor, he said:
'The Bedroom Tax distils the complete lack of understanding low-paid and vulnerable people by this Tory-led government.
At Exeter City Council we have anticipated which residents will be most affected by the Bedroom Tax and the 10% cut to support to pay Council Tax. We have set up a team dedicated to advise them in advance of benefit cuts on April 1st.'
Protests against the plan have been held across the UK including Manchester, Birmingham and London.
More than 800 housing tenants in Exeter are set to be hit by an under-occupancy penalty which comes into force next month, a campaign group estimates.
And of those affected by what critics have branded the "bedroom tax", more than half are disabled according to the National Housing Federation.
The group argues the financial￼ assistance being provided to these households will fail to cover the shortfall in lost benefit.
The Government has come in for fierce criticism over the changes coming into force on April 1, which will see housing benefit cut for people in social housing with spare bedrooms.
Paul Bull, Labour and Co-op Councillor for Cowick, gave a speech at the rally which he later made available for the public to read.
"In 15 days time, the Tory- led Coalition introduced the size criteria that will see poor and vulnerable tenants in social housing facing a reduction in their Housing Benefit each and every week.
The Tory Fail Government supported by their Lib Dem allies in the Coalition seem to focus more on the fact that is not a tax.
They seem keen on discussing whether it’s called
the Size Criteria
the Under Occupancy Penalty,
or the Spare Bedroom Subsidy.
But to me and you it’s the BEDROOM TAX
It’s a phase the Tories don’t like – IDS realy hates us calling it the Bedroom Tax.
Well Mr Duncan Smith I can think of a way to stop us mentioning the Bedroom Tax
That’s the best course of action because it’s so ill-conceived.
It’s a unfair and perverse tax which will hit hundreds of thousand of vulnerable people living in social housing around the country
It is a mass of contradictions and full of unintended consequences.
And it penalises tenants for a weak housing policy – of all recent Governments, including Labour – that has failed to build enough Social Homes.
But it's no surprise that theses plans are such a mess.
That's because its being organised by the Department of Work and Pensions
Yes the crack team that gave us a Work Programme that is officially worse than doing nothing.
And their reward is that they been given another brewery in which to organise a party.
When I started drafting this speech I had lots of examples about how incompetent these regulations were.
But during the week, Inane Duncan Smith made some changes – changes that are described as helping families with severely disabled children, foster carers and forces familes
But that’s not the real picture
Its only SOME families with severely disabled children...
only those that under Bedroom Tax rules would have to share with siblings..
there is no allowance for social need, such storing essential equipment to help them to cope with their disability
It’s only SOME foster carers
Only current foster carers or those approved in last 12 months will be protected from reduction in Housing benefit...
and only for ONE extra bedroom, meaning fosters carers wanting to look after siblings and needing more than one extra bedroom will still be liable for Bedroom Tax
And, we're not sure on this one, but it maybe SOME forces familes
there is still a lack of clarity on how the Bedroom Tax applies to 'teenage adults' in terms of forces families...
Many military personnel and forces families think exemption only applies when 'on operations' - ie frontline duty... n Afghanistna, Mali, etc.
No exemption if they in Catterick training to go 'on operations'
I say again the Bedroom Tax needs to be abolished
And it needs to be abolished wholesale, not piecemeal
Making concession after concession, hoping like in a game of Kerplunk the whole thing doesn’t collapse on you is NOT the answer
It needs to be abolished now
The coalition are trying to use the tactic of DIVIDE AND CONQUER – we must unite together to fight – not each other, but this evil Bedroom Tax
We need to stand together and reveal the truth.
That they are discriminating demonstrates the unfairness of their policy.
But they have a solution to some of the hardships that the inherent unfairness of the Bedroom Tax will bring.
Lib Dem and Tory MPs over the past few weeks have continually stood up from the Government benches in the House of Commons and told us that there is a Discretionary Housing Payment available to cover hardships
They seem to think that £25 million available will support all the 440,000 households with a disabled family member.
That somehow that £25 miilion in DHP could make up for the £300million that those hard-pressed 440,000 families will give up in Housing Benefit reductions
The truth is the DHP fund will barely cover 1 in 10 of such cases. So the DHP will probably be paid up to a maximum of 13 weeks
Just yesterday I read that a Tory MP in Central Bedforshire couldn’t believe how the Discretionary Housing Payment wouldn’t just make the problem of the Bedroom Tax completely disappear.
He said he did not think the policy of ‘just giving a short-term’ DHP is appropriate ‘because the situation could be exactly the same at the end of the period’.
‘Surely the people who have disabilities whose houses have been adapted specifically to help them live in them should be in a separate category.'
And that's from someone who should know how all this should work - Andrew Selous MP is Parliamentary Private Secretary to Iain Duncan Smith at DWP
Put like that, it is obvious that the bedroom tax is attacking the vulnerable, the poor, the sick, the terminally ill and the disabled.
A *discretionary* payment for something so fundamental & permanent as shelter is just a recipe for housing stress & insecurity
One of my acquaintances fro Twitter wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister
In it she said
You say why should I have this lifestyle I cannot afford?
Why should others pay for me to live like this?
Since when has being made blind a life style choice?
Since when was being made redundant an excuse for you to label me a skiver and a scrounger?
Since when has claiming benefits means your not entitled to be treated as a human being?
Since when has it become acceptable to treat me like a piece of rubbish?
I want to speak up for those silent voices, the ones that the privileged members of the Cabinet never hear
I want them to reflect on the words of Mahatma Ghandi
"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members."
This is what the Government thinks ofthe poor in this country?
They are introducing the Bedroom Tax on the same day as it’s giving millionaires a tax break – giving them a saving of around £100,000.
So that's it
The vindictive mess that is the BedroomTax. Rush it in. Kerplunk!
Millionaire's tax break? Of course that's OK. Kerching?
On the first of April – that really is a sick April Fool’s Day joke
Yesterday was Red Nose Day – perhaps we should rebrand April the first RED FACE DAY.
I want to see their embarassment. I want to see them squirm.
The Coalition claim that the bedroom tax is needed to reduce the housing benefit bill.
But the scheme is now so chaotic it could actually end up costing more than it saves in many parts of the country.
Just last week I spoke to one of my residents.
She is worried about the bedroom tax – worried sick
She has a 3 bedroom property but her 2 sons are in care.
And the judgement under Bedroom tax is that 2 of those bedrooms are spare, surplus to needs.
Those 2 bedrooms give her hope that one day her sons will return to live with her.
But if she doesn’t have those 2 rooms, her sons can never return to live with her.
At the moment her rent for that 3 bedroom rent is £85 per week, meaning she'd have to find £23 per week to cover the reduction of Housing Benefit that is the Bedroom Tax.
She’s looked at downsizing.
She’s been lucky and found somewhere – a single bedroom apartment at £99.
How is that reducing the housing benefit bill?
And that increase of £14 takes away her hope.
And if we remover her hope – what will be the social cost?
This Government is being cynical in introducing this legislation –
they know the price of everything,
yet at the same time, they ignore the cost
I forsee increased demand on
The National Health Service
I forsee increased demand on
Sevices dealing with mental health and social wellbeing
I forsee increased demand
All directly attributable to the devastating effects of the Bedroom Tax
If families are made homeless or pushed into expensive private rented accommodation the tax payer could actually be left with a higher bill – and still the problem of under occupancy will not be solved.
Ministers claim they are trying to solve under-occupancy but David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have been forced to admit that it is impossible for their plans to work because there aren’t enough smaller homes for families to move into.
So all the Bedroom Tax will achieve is making some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society even poorer.
The best way to bring down the benefits bill is to get people into jobs
I’m not sure if you know this fact, but the majority of Housing Benefits claimants are in work and 93% of new claimants need this benefit to subsidize low paying employers and part-time work.
That’s why Ed Miliband is looking at ways to move forward with a Living Wage
That’s why Labour is looking at ways to stimulate growth and employment
Labour supports sensible reform to the Social Security system – but that’s not the same as these current WELFARE CUTS
The ones that are being pushed forward by this Tory Government supported by its Lib Dem allies
From the Guardian to The Sun, everyone is warning the government that this policy is a mess, but ministers are burying their heads in the sand.
They have to concede that the Bedroom Tax is crazy.
They have to concede that the Bedroom Tax is now in total disarray.
This isn’t about tough choices, it’s about the wrong choices.
Ministers must now admit they have got this horribly wrong and think again – before it’s too late.
Already Labour front-benchers Liam Byrne and Jack Dromey have confirmed that they will abolished the Bedroom Tax if Labour are returned to power.
I will want to hold them to that.
I am clear that the Bedroom Tax needs to be abolished.
I want it abolished now.
And if not now, I will press the Labour front bench team to abolish it as a matter of urgency if we are returned to power in 2013.
Thank you for listening and thank you for your support"