This is a packed update, there’s loads going on. The headline is that Scotland has effectively blocked the bedroom tax, only one tenant in Leeds has been evicted so far (and he’s fighting back) and there’s several ‘loopholes’ which you can use to challenge bedroom tax decisions. See below.
HOWEVER, Leeds City Council (and councils in Calderdale, Selby, Barnsley and others) still continue to take tenants who simply can’t pay the extra rent to court, causing misery and fear. We need to keep up the pressure on them, on national government, and stick together.
1) Campaign update – court, evictions, fighting on
We’ve had a busy few weeks, mainly talking to people and finding tenants outside the JobCentre and at County Court. We’ve also been supporting individual tenants through court cases and other issues. We’ve been out in Beeston today and if we had a few more people giving an hour here and there, we’d get a lot more done. So please consider it. All you need do is turn up!
*ACTION* If you would like to come for an hour and help do court support (it’s not hard) or chat to people outside JobCentre or court, get in touch.
2) You might be exempt from the bedroom tax – 1996 loophole and room use
As we said a few weeks ago, the ‘1996 loophole’ may well be closed by the Government soon but for the moment people in the same property with a continuous eligibility for housing benefit are exempt from the policy. Another possibility is over a recent legal ruling on what a bedroom means; basically some tenants may have a case if they argue that they have never or even have not recently used the extra room(s) as a bedroom. This one is really worth giving a try
.IF YOU ARE AFFECTED BY THE BEDROOM TAX, PLEASE READ OUR BLOG AND SEND AN APPEAL! IT’S EASY! Click here –https://handsoffourhomes.org.uk/2014/02/08/updated-two-appeals-you-can-try-all-affected-tenants-please-read/
This could potentially be really significant so we’ll keep you updated. Also, get in touch if you’ve been successful in getting your money back from Leeds City Council – good news stories are the best stories!
*ACTION* – Please email your Labour MP (Either Hilary Benn, Rachel Reeves or Fabian Hamilton) asking them to 1) support a Labour motion to abolish the bedroom tax 2) Stop the 1996 loophole being closed. Details here http://nobedroomtax.co.uk/2-general/86-how-to-stop-the-tories-closing-the-1996-loophole
3) Demonstrate! 8th March and 5th April
Two demonstrations coming up:
– Sat 8th March from 11am in YORK, TUC’s ‘A Better Way’ march against austerity policies and welfare cuts – more details soon. There will be a free coach leaving at 10am- we’ll send round more details soon of how to book onto it.
– Sat 5th April in Leeds, Hands Off Our Homes – organised demo against the bedroom tax and other welfare cuts. More details soon!
* ACTION* Come along to our next meeting on 19th February if you want to get involved in planning the 5th April demo – let’s make it huge and effective!
NEWS ROUND UP
1) Scotland blocks the bedroom tax
Last week the Scottish Parliament effectively blocked the bedroom tax by setting aside money to pay the extra rent for every tenant. However, the money is not forever, and the policy is still law. Read what our friends in Dundee have to say about it here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bin-the-Bedroom-Tax-Dundee/354228814689930
2) UN report on housing and human rights in the UK
The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Housing Rights, Raquel Rolnik, has published a report into the right to housing in the UK. We submitted evidence for this report. She is especially critical not only of welfare ‘reform’ but also of the sell-offs of council housing and lack of investment in affordable and social housing in the last 30+ years. We hope this report can be a further weapon in the work we’re doing in Leeds and nationally. You can download the report here (it’s the second listed report) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/CountryVisits.aspx
Wednesday 19th February
Wednesday 5th March
7pm, TUC Centre, 88 North St, Leeds