A report on the bedroom tax by Leeds Hands Off Our Homes shows the stress, poverty and intimidation being piled on the disabled and vulnerable.
Housing officers and social landlords often force tenants to prioritise rent above food and heating. The right to family life, equality for the disabled, and food and shelter are all assaulted by the bedroom tax.
Hands Off Our Homes is one of the most inspiring campaigns that has been seen in West Yorkshire for many years. It has helped prevent the eviction of two tenants, and is running a political campaign against the policy and Leeds city council’s implementation of it.
The campaign up and down the country has forced Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet to commit to scrapping the bedroom tax.
As Solidarity went to press, Labour had forced a vote in Parliament on the issue, forcing Lib Dem MPs to choose between coalition policy and Lib-Dem conference’s opposition to the bedroom tax.
If the vote falls due to Lib Dem betrayal of promises made, Labour councils and the Labour-controlled Welsh government should refuse to implement the policy any more. Some councils have already been pressured into a no-evictions policy, and the reclassification of bedrooms under other headings. This needs to be an across-the-board policy of defiance as part of the wider campaign for abolition.
Some Housing Associations have over 50% of their affected tenants in arrears. Housing Associations in the Wirral and in the North East of England are threatening to knock down three-bedroom homes because there is no demand due to the bedroom tax.
This shows the irrationality of this policy and the housing sector in general.
The only rational response is the abolition of landlordism and the public provision of a decent home for all.