Firstly, a reminder that Hands Off Our Homes is planning two local public meetings – one in Armley at the Dennison Hall social club on 5th May, and one in Middleton at St Cross church hall on 12th May. Both events begin at 7pm. Our latest flyer gives a run-down of the issues we’ll be discussing and planning to campaign around – see here and here .
This is a very busy time for us, so we are appealing for people to come out and help us with publicity. We will be running a stall on Friday in front of Sainsbury’s on Middleton Circus, starting at 2.30pm, and also on Saturday in the same place starting at 12 noon. Please come along and help, especially if you live in that area and can help by taking flyers away to distribute to friends and neighbours or in your own groups, workplaces etc.
The Facebook event for the Middleton meeting is Stop the Housing and Planning Bill – see here
We’ll be doing more stalls and leafleting over the coming weeks – watch this space for more details.
Also, don’t forget to contact us if you would like to arrange a meeting in your own neighbourhood, or you would like help to arrange a group lobby of a local councillor or MP.
Also on Saturday 23rd, we will be running a workshop about the campaign for more social housing and against benefit cuts affecting people’s ability to pay their rent. This will be part of the Leeds Summat – a big event bringing together community projects and social justice campaigners from all over Leeds. The Summat starts at 10am, and will be held at Leeds University. The HOOH workshop will start at 11.30, and we will also have a stall there setting up at 9.30am. Please come and join in if you can – click here to see more info, get a programme for the day, and to register.
On Saturday 30th Leeds Tenants Federation is holding an open meeting from 10am to 1pm at the Civic Hall. This will be an opportunity to question councillors about the likely impacts of the Housing and Planning Bill on tenants and on the housing situation generally in Leeds, and also about the impacts on social and private tenants of draconian new cuts planned to benefits, which will see thousands of families unable to pay their rent. We will be able to press them about how the council plans to address the lack of affordable housing, and about how they will protect households affected by existing and new benefit cuts (eg the bedroom tax, lower household benefit cap, restrictions on housing benefit for supported and sheltered housing and hostels etc). Please get along if you can, and make sure this is not a wasted opportunity.
If you are affected by the bedroom tax and have not yet appealed against your latest Housing Benefit decision, we would urge you to do so now. A recent Upper Tribunal decision rules that a room should not count as a bedroom unless it has space for an adult single bed, a bedside table, storage of clothes and space to dress and undress (also taking account of privacy – being able to shut and open the door – natural light, ability to heat etc). This equates to a floor space of at least 65.81 square feet (or maybe more if there are features such as a sloping ceiling, unusual shape or fixtures which reduce the usable space). We have prepared a model letter which you can use to appeal if your “spare” room does not meet this standard – preferably copy it and insert your own details, but read it carefully before making any alterations to make sure your own letter gives all the necessary details. The model letter is here
Finally, if you were at the recent Housing Summit hosted by Hands Off Our Homes, we would very much like to hear of any follow-up or anything which has happened since then in your groups or organisations with regard to the issues we discussed at the Summit. We are encouraged to see that the Lords have now voted for several amendments which dilute the impacts of the Housing Bill – and though this is still not enough (we need the Bill stopped altogether!) we do think this is progress and reflects the untiring efforts of those around the country who have lobbied, demonstrated, worked to raise awareness and taken direct action to show that social and private tenants will not take attacks on homes and services lying down. So let[s keep going until we finish off these vicious policies for good!