Saturday, 29 April 2017

Thousands protest against bedroom tax

Thousands of people have gathered at demonstrations across the UK to protest against the government’s ‘bedroom tax’ penalty for under-occupation of social housing.

Around 50 protests were held today (16 March) as part of a co-ordinated day of action against the penalty, which is due to be introduced on 1 April.

Under the new rules social housing tenants of working age who are receiving housing benefit will have their payments cut if they are deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.

Manchester bedroom tax protest

Source: Nick Duxbury

One of the largest events was held in Manchester, where around 1,000 people gathered. The protest was organised by Karen Broady, a former housing officer, who said she was ‘very pleased’ with the turnout.

‘An awful lot of people here have been affected,’ she said. ‘A lot are older people whose children have left home. Many people are going to have choose between paying the rent or eating. It will be eating every time. It’s going to end up with some housing associations going bust.’

According to the government’s impact assessment, around 660,000 households will be affected by the bedroom tax, or which 420,000 include a disabled family member. Many of the protesters in Manchester were disabled, or said they were protesting on behalf of others who could not attend due to illness or poverty.

Former soldier Cody Lachey, 29, was among the protesters. He ended up homeless after being injured in service, and is now in a property managed by Great Places housing association.

‘For the first time since returning from war I have stability in my life and now the government wants to take that from me,’ he said. ‘All I have to show for my time in the army is scars. I will die before I go back on the streets.’

Messages of support were read out from two local Labour MPs who were unable to attend: Lucy Powell and Kate Green.

At another smaller protest in Bath, Dani Brown, who has two children about to go to university, told Inside Housing she would have to rent their rooms out when they leave. ‘Basically, they won’t have a home to come back to,’ she said. ‘I won’t be able to keep it [a room] for their holidays.’

Around 17,000 people were expected to attend the protests nationally.

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