Over the last few months Hands off our Homes has held over a dozen public meetings in Leeds and from these formed 6 – 8 ongoing anti Bedroom Tax campaign groups. These have assisted with appeals and applications for Discretionary Housing Payment. The groups stick together and support each other.
Kevin Pattison, Leeds North Socialist Party
We have lobbied individual councillors at their surgeries. Many Labour councillors have told us that they are against the bedroom tax and against evictions, and many have voted at Labour Party meetings against evictions.So many Labour councillors have declared themselves against the tax and against evictions that it is difficult to see how the majority Labour group and Leeds City Council has not got a “no evictions”policy .
In April 1000 people demonstrated in Leeds against the bedroom tax supported by many onlookers. There has also been massive support for the campaign and against the bedroom tax at stalls held throughout Leeds.
Leeds City Council has made much of the fact that they have redesignated 800 rooms, so they don’t count as bedrooms. We support this but only 275 of these rooms belong to the 8000 households who are affected by the bedroom tax, so the vast majority are still getting further into arrears.
On Monday 1 July Hands off our Homes lobbied the full council meeting. Iain Dalton led a delegation and read a statement giving harrowing examples of how the bedroom tax was affecting vulnerable people in Leeds.
We have talked to parents in Harehills and in Armley who have started to miss meals to feed their children and in winter will sacrifice heat to keep a roof over their families head. To a 56 year old man in Hunslet who is confused and frightened by the cuts to his council tax and housing benefit and now refuses to leave the house. A young man living alone in a high rise in Lincoln Green who told us he was considering ending his life. A single father in Woodhouse whose children have now left home and has to find £20 out of his weekly allowance of £71 and is now cutting down on food who is hungry and ashamed and isolated; a grandmother in Beeston whose home of 23 years is the only place that her grandkids can see their dad; a grandmother in Morley who looks after her disabled grandson to give her daughter some respite; a grandmother in Seacroft whose grandchildren stay over so their mum can work nights.
None of these are ‘spare’ rooms – they are part of a home and all the different functions that a home plays in the life of families. Every case is an injustice.”
The statement also called for a “no evictions” policy for people in arrears because of the tax, for the council to write off those arrears and for the Council to build more social housing.
The council has made some concessions after debates with Hands off out Homes and the lead councillor for housing, came to speak to the delegation after the speech. The statement has been referred to the Executive Board and Leeds tenants and campaigners will be watching closely to ensure that there are no evictions in Leeds.
An interview with members of the delegation can be found on ITV’s website – http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/story/2013-07-01/hands-off-our-homes/
For more information about Hands off our Homes see their website – http://handsoffourhomes.org.uk/