The facts are stark:
- 660,000 of the poorest households will be affected by the bedroom tax,
- Their housing benefit will be cut by 14% for one extra room to 25% for two
- Those who ask to be moved by their local council or housing association to a property with fewer rooms, will find there is the alternative accommodation and most will be forced into the private rented sector. In Wolverhampton, for example, 350 inquired about moving but on average only 12 one-bedroom homes a week become available
- The tax payer will end up paying more in housing benefit, because it will go to private landlords who charge higher rents
- Many of those affected are disabled or have medical conditions and need the ‘extra room’ for carers or equipment. Deterioration in their condition will increase NHS costs.
- Stable communities and networks of families and friends will be broken up as people will be forced to move away.
Few can see the economic logic, but the political aim is clear: divide the working class, private tenants from council tenants, mortgage payers from rent payers, old from young etc. ‘Tenants in the private rented sector already receive housing benefit on the basis of the rooms they occupy, how can that be fair?’ said prime minister David Cameron. ‘It will encourage them to work instead of being trapped in benefits’ chip in his supporters in Parliament.
The demonstrations in 50 cities on Easter Saturday show that instead there will be increased unity and resistance. Attending were affected tenants but also trade unionists, pensioners, young people and house owners angered by the cruelty and deception of the government. Tories who present themselves as the party of the family are punishing those who use their ‘extra’ room to support their children, look after grandchildren so enabling parents to work, and receive family visitors.
Lib-Dems who present themselves as defenders of civil rights, attack the most vulnerable. Politically they promote the ‘Mansion Tax’, but to keep their jobs they impose the bedroom tax. UNITE the union provides help on their website for those affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.
Let us all unite in a demand for council house building and the removal of benefit cuts. United resistance is the way to immunize ourselves from Tory-Lib-Dem immorality.