It’s been a busy and important week for anti-bedroom tax and welfare cuts campaigners.
1. United Nations representative hears from affected tenants, condemns bedroom tax
Some of HOOH went to Manchester on Saturday 7th Sept to meet Raquel Rolnik, UN Special Rapporteur for Housing. As you can imagine, some of the stories we heard from tenants across the country were totally appalling. Not surprisingly, Rolnik condemned the bedroom tax in a statement this week. She also criticised the longer-term policy of not investing in social housing, selling off social housing and the inflated prices of private rent and buying property at a time when wages are dropping.
2. Leeds City Council debate a ‘no evictions’ policy for the Bedroom Tax – er, not quite
On Wednesday, as the UN representative made her statement, councillors in Leeds prepared to debate a motion to adopt a ‘no evictions’ policy. HOOH pointed out this policy should be unconditional, and several amendments were laid down. As the Leeds Citizen blog has noted, ‘one council that has adopted a no-eviction policy, Bristol, could now be having second thoughts after a council working party found the policy was “not sustainable and should be ended as soon as possible”. However, a commitment to ‘no evictions’ could have been a way of holding the council accountable in the coming months.
In the end, Councillors voted for a motion which did not call for ‘no evictions’, but merely congratulated council and other staff on hard work done to help tenants cope with the policy! Not good enough. We’ll be publishing a blog about this in the next few days.
3. Council tax arrears – Hands Off Our Homes supporting people in court
We attended the Magistrates Court on the 5th September to support and talk to people in council tax arrears. One tenant we had spoken to in advance was prepared and his case was adjourned with no liability order and no deductions from benefit. Whilst we tried to instil confidence in a few other attendees they were almost all brow beaten into submission by Council officers and some were close to tears. We have contacted Councillor Gruen about the way these cases are being handled and will publicise the answers soon.
The next Council Tax summons day is Thursday the 19th September – so anyone wanting to help with advice and leaflets should be outside Leeds Magistrates Court at 9.45.
4. GET INVOLVED! WHAT YOU CAN DO
18th Sept – General Hands Off Our Homes meeting –We need help organising around court summons and keeping the campaign going over the coming months. 1st Oct is 6 month anniversary of the Welfare Reform Act and we are planning some publicity around that. Come to our next meeting, this Wednesday the 18th September at 7.00 p.m. at the Leeds TUC Centre, 88 North Street
19th Sept – Support people in court due to council tax/housing benefit arrears: Come and be part of the HOOH support group, Thurs 19th September, 9.45 am, Leeds Magistrates Court
29th Sept -Tell the Tories to stuff the welfare reform cuts – Free travel to Manc
Demonstration in Manchester at the Tory party Conference 29th September. To book your free coach seat ring or email the Unison office and leave an email address or a mobile phone number. 0113 245 9442, firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep on keeping on,
Hands Off Our Homes