26th Nov 2013
With apologies for delay but we have been busy!
DEMO! This Thursday 28th November from 9.30 a.m, Leeds Combined Court Centre, Westgate
Leeds City Council is seeking possession of a council property due to arrears of rent built up because of the bedroom tax! The tenant is in court on Thursday. We are hoping to have a decent show of support for her outside the court building, with banners and placards. Radio Leeds and the YEP have again been informed and it seems that pre- prepared interviews with the tenant could be broadcast on the day.
Please come along at 9.30, bring your banners and your anger!
So, we are now seeing tenants brought before the County Court by landlords seeking possession due to rent arrears. So far it seems that judges have been persuaded to adjourn cases for at least 6 weeks to allow time for applications for Discretionary Housing Payments to be made and for tenants to sort out benefit claims. It also seems to be that Landlords offer assistance through Housing Support Workers – now why weren’t they arranged before the arrears built up? Maybe the Council and Housing Associations will start to learn that the cost of these Court Proceedings is far higher than the arrears attempted to be recovered.
Our banner and leaflets were out at the County Court on the 7th November in support of a tenant from Little London and the YEP and the Morning Star sent reporters.
It is important that tenants attend court and obtain legal advice if they receive a summons and while we want to abolish the “tax” completely it is important that we help defend those at risk of eviction. If you hear of anyone in difficulty contact us immediately with details.
Discretionary Housing Payments
These payments are supposedly for those who are in difficulty with their rent due to the bedroom tax. It was supposed that full advice would be given to all affected tenants including how to claim a DHP. Sadly we are meeting numerous people who have never heard of this help until we speak with them. A DHP will never solve the tax- only its abolition will do that- but short term help is now desperately required. As the temperatures fall we are meeting those who have tried to maintain payments of rent in full but now find that they have a choice of putting some heating on and eating or paying rent.
If you or anyone you know is cutting back on food or heating to pay rent, please remember – Warmth and food comes first. Don’t let the council intimidate you over rent.
And when you thought things could not get worse a letter arrives informing tenants that as from April 2014 the Council Tax benefit cut will be changed from a cut of 19% to one of 26%. And as our council leaders say “we are doing all we can to help the vulnerable”. Yeah, right.
HOOH Report to the United Nations
A few weeks back that some of the group met up with the UN Special Rapporteur for Housing in Manchester, where many who were affected by the tax gave evidence as to how they were affected. There was an invitation to submit further evidence for consideration and some of our gang have put together a report using responses we have received from our survey. A fine document entitled “The impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on the right to adequate housing: the case of Leeds” is now available. The report is on our web site: have a read and pass it along to anyone who might be interested!
Parliamentary Debate, 12th November
There was an “Opposition debate” at Westminster, initiated by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, calling for the abolition of the Bedroom Tax. Greg Mulholland couldn’t quite follow his (LibDem) party conference and support the motion but he did manage to abstain. Some Labour MPs stayed away believing that to “pair” with a Tory was more principled than opposing the bedroom tax – the result was that the motion was defeated.
Many of our supporters did lobby their MP and Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton did engage in correspondence with one tenant in his constituency. In an email he said “I have been assured by Council Leaders that there will be no evictions as a result of the bedroom tax…..I will of course ask them [Cllrs Gruen and Wakefield] to make a public statement about evictions, but that is very much a matter for them.”
We await such a statement…..!!!!
And finally on a rather sad note. We were due to be involved with a conference on austerity organised by the Regional TUC on the 15th of November however due to the low take up of places the event was cancelled.
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