A Victory Against the Bedroom Tax

bedroom tax

Plymouth City Council has demonstrated, at least in principal, that it understands the concerns of the people of Plymouth and is not completely out of touch, unlike the government of millionaires. This government keeps saying that we are all having to do without and yet while the rest of us face austerity measures, millionaires have just received tax cuts.

These measures are ideologically driven by a group of self-servatives who have naught but their own interests at heart. They are using divide and rule tactics to pit public against private sector, Brits against immigrants workers and workers against benefit claimants. The real issue is that the government’s heavy-handed and ideologically driven approach has led to a triple-dip recession. They are incompetent, inconsiderate of the deepening poverty levels that their austerity measures are causing and are only out to line their own pockets.

Plymouth City Council has spoken and voted 34 votes to 20 to scrap the bedroom tax. They will now be calling on Iain Duncan Smith and Plymouth area MPs, as will I. The spare room subsidy/bedroom tax and cuts to council tax benefits do not affect me personally. I just know that the policy is brutally targetting the poorest and most vulnerable and my conscience cannot allow this to pass.

This is a great victory on our part but we cannot allow ourselves to get complacent just yet. The important thing now is to remain focussed; The Council have moved to call for the scrapping of the policy but that does not make it go away. We now need to focus our efforts on lobbying Iain Duncan Smith and our Plymouth MP’s, particularly as Gary Streeter MP and Oliver Colvile MP voted for the Bedroom Tax (verified by http://www.theyworkforyou.com).

We also need to be mindful that though it is now Plymouth Policy to scrap the Bedroom Tax there is still much to be done to mitigate its effects. We can now try to push for the Council to write to housing associations advising them to reclassify their social housing as a way to get around the Bedroom Tax. We can also write to the housing associations directly to ask that they do so.

There is one other point that must be remembered. Cuts to Council Tax Benefits will affect far more than the bedroom tax and requires that people reduce their minuscule budgets even more to accommodate for the extra cost of paying it. This is something that was barely discussed in the full council meeting (dated Monday 22nd April 2013). However, we were informed that the council is willing to use bailiffs to evict those who accrue debts from non-payment of Council Tax. This is a serious issue which needs to be challenged at every avenue. The Labour Councillors spoke out against the injustices and hardships faced by those having to pay the Bedroom Tax. We now need to pressure them to act on their fervent words and expose and oppose the cuts to Council Tax benefit which they have chosen to impose.

I would like to remind you all that there is a Plymouth Against Benefit Cuts meeting tonight (Wednesday 24th April) at 19:00 in Plymouth Social Club (on Tavistock Place, behind the Central Library) and I hope that many of you can attend, as much to celebrate a victory as to plan our next steps!

My thanks go out to all those who have helped to see this campaign through to this point and I hope that with this, our first victory, you’ll be encouraged to help us see these brutal reforms completely and utterly reversed.

Here is an article about the Council lobby organised by members of Plymouth Against Benefit Cuts and members of the Socialist Party:

http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/Council-urged-protect-poor-welfare-reforms/story-18787789-detail/story.html#axzz2REMFcRxf

To see the Council lobby and full debate on the bedroom tax, check out this webcast:

http://connect.plymouth.public-i.tv/site/player/pl_v7.php?a=89096&t&m=flash&l=en_GB

Questions start at 19:15

For the Full Bedroom Tax Debate skip to 3:33:15