- London-wide benefits cuts federation needed
- 21% in lowest income bracket has 39% of cuts
More people are needed to challenge the government’s bedroom tax and housing benefit cap, a meeting heard recently.
Speakers and audience members said the 1980s Poll Tax campaign was a good example for today because it stopped the tax and deposed Prime Minister Thatcher.
Calls for more campaigning were heard at IHOOPS’ second bedroom tax meeting held at St Luke’s Community Centre, Finsbury on 7 May.
Campaign where people congregate
Rob Murthwaite speaking for Disabled People Against Cuts said that meetings like this created the Poll Tax campaign. He said: “We need to connect a local group with IHOOPS. We can build a national federation and we can stop the cuts.”
PCS organizer, Tony Reay highlighted the movement in the south of London. Campaigners built relationship with local groups such as tenants associations, pensioner forums and even Millwall Football Club.
He said: “We didn’t get 25,000 people to go on the Save the Lewisham Hospital march overnight. Wherever people, congregate you need to get a speaker there.”
The issue of public involvement in the bedroom tax campaign was raised by the audience. An audience member said she was concerned that people in Islington were not attending public meetings and did not know about the benefit cuts that would affect them.
IHOOPS’ secretary and meeting chair of the meeting, Suzanne Jeffery told the meeting that there were organized campaigns in Scotland, Manchester and Leeds. The Benefit Justice Summit 2 on 11 May is an opportunity to organize nationally and in London.
Bedroom tax meeting in Finsbury: more anti-cuts meetings needed
Benefit cuts means poverty
Islington’s housing leader, Cllr James Murray said that the council’s information campaign was targeting affected households. Council staff were encouraging households to apply for all the benefits available to them.
He said that the Council would support social housing and reject market-based rents.
But he warned the meeting about the impact of benefit cuts on local households. He said: “It means people living on 50p a week after rent. They will pay their rent but that means people can?t have money to spend on anything else.?
“I’m no going to lie. There are people who are going to go into poverty because of this.”
Islington councillor, James Murray: social homes and rents pledge
Eileen Short from Defend Public Housing told the audience: “Advice and information are important but these cuts can’t be managed. It’s time for words to be turned into action. Campaigns across London should link up. We are pressing Tower Hamlets Council not to evict people because of the bedroom tax. If you don’t people will blame the council for carrying it out.”
Government policy contradictions
She attacked contradictions in the government’s housing benefit policies. She reminded the audience of Cameron’s promises before and during the last election that included ‘protecting frontline services, the vulnerable in society and tenancies’.
She said that research by the charity Scope has revealed that those in the bottom 21% of household incomes were experiencing 39% of the budget cuts.
Eileen Short: people will blame councils if they evict
She pointed out that a single person would need more housing benefits if he or she moved from a two bedroom council property into a single bedroom private flat.
While, 80,000 London households are affected by the bedroom tax while 300,000 homes are overcrowded.
Tony Reay said that campaigners should develop their own vision for the welfare state. PCS has begun an educational campaign on tax avoidance and evasion. He said: “For a long time our colleagues in Inland Revenue said that £120bn are not paid in taxes. We need to start talking about tax evasion.”
Civil service union’s Tony Reay: wants togetherness to stop tax avoidance, with Suzanne and Cllr Murray
Benefit Justice Summit 2
11am Central Hall, Westminster, Storey’s Gate, SW1H 9NH, http://dpac.uk.net/2013/04/benefit-justice-summit-2/ www.benefitjustice.wordpress.com, facebook.com/benefitjustice, twitter @benefitjustice