Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Abolish the Bedroom Tax event: Saturday 13th July 2013


Saturday 13 July 2013
1pm: Meet at Parliament Square
2pm: Set off for 10 Downing Street for delivery of personal letters to the PM
3pm: March to Trafalgar Square for rally till 5pm
More information: and

We Will Be Heard have been inviting anyone who's been affected by the Bedroom Tax to write a letter to the Prime Minister, and copy it to their campaign, so that they can add it to the Personal Petition they will deliver to the PM on Saturday. Unfortunately the deadline is today, but perhaps they will accept late entries!

Meanwhile, following the previous post by the beleaguered Marmoset, we were sent this correspondence by another Deptford resident... 
Dear Joan Ruddock,

I am a carer for my Aunt who is 92. She has glaucoma and is almost blind. Her mobility is very bad and she is in a lot of pain. I am with her every day for five hours or more and as she is housebound I do all her chores, shopping, hospital visits etc. I exist on carers allowance and income support and get housing benefit. I share a council house with my brother, who works and pays half the rent. We have lived here for 35 years. As the property has 3 bedrooms and we only use two, I will have to pay bedroom tax out of the paltry amount of money I am expected to live on. Downsizing is not an option as the reason I am able to look after my Aunt is that she lives in the next street and I can be there in minutes. My brother and myself have saved the government thousands of pounds by looking after my Aunt and my mother, when she was alive, in their own home. I do all this work for about £1.50 an hour, which is what these benefits work out to, and now we are getting kicked in the teeth by this government. I phoned the DWP and was told the cut in housing benefit was an incentive to look for work. I pointed out I was a carer and was met with silence. I was wondering where you and the Labour party stood on this very depressing matter?

Yours sincerely, -----

Dear Mr ----,

Thank you for your email about the bedroom tax, I am sorry for the long delay in responding to you.  I receive a huge volume of post and this can lead to a delay in my reply. Please be assured that the Labour Party has vehemently opposed the bedroom tax. Liam Byrne, the Labour Shadow Work and Pension’s spokesman has said,
“This wicked bedroom tax is going to rip neighbour from neighbour, force vulnerable people to food banks and loan sharks, and end up costing Britain more than it saves as tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private rented sector. It is the worst possible blend of cruelty and incompetence. The Government must think again and drop this tax now.”
I agree with him and I hope that this reassures you as to where I and the Labour Party stand. With regard to your own case, have you been in touch with the council about your circumstances?

Yours sincerely, Rt Hon Dame Joan Ruddock MP
Unfortunately, Lewisham Council has not been particularly proactive in finding ways round the Bedroom Tax. It should follow the lead of Leeds Council who have found a loophole: it is reclassifying rooms in its social housing as 'non specific'. It has identified 837 spare bedrooms, and people who have already lost out because of the tax will be refunded. They say it would cost the council more to chase up rent arrears and evict people. Read the recent Telegraph story.

This Saturday campaigners will also be remembering the grandmother who took her own life and left a suicide note blaming the bedroom tax. Read the Newstatesman story.

There is also a Facebook group for the campaign.  


  1. But the occupants don't own these properties, they are free or subsidized Council Houses which were meant to pass to more needy members of society who need of a place to live, not hoarded by the few who consider them some sort of right.

    If you live in a Council house you cant expect to keep it forever, that's not what they are for? I would be delighted if I managed to even get a year living in a free/heavily subsidized Council home though apparently I 'don't qualify'. They should count themselves lucky to have benefited so much from the Welfare State to date.

    1. I wonder where you expect council house tenants to go once they're thrown out, DP. I also wonder where the idea of free, or even heavily subsidised comes in. Even more puzzling is the expensive letters coming from the government offering £100,000 to buy your council home. Where on earth do the government get the money to subsidise the transfer of social housing to the private sector? And, of course, make it nigh on impossible to find or qualify for social housing.

    2. My next door neighbour has a four bedroom flat all to himself, but since he has a well-paid job and is not dependent on benefits, his under-occupancy is not an issue.

      If under-occupancy were the issue, rather than benefit cuts, he would be rehoused in a one-bed flat (except there aren't any) and his flat given to a family. Or perhaps you think he should be chucked out into the private sector just because he has a job?

    3. If DP stopped focusing on the housing and thought about the people this policy effects ie the elderly,the vunerable,the poor and disabled,then DP might appear less inhumane.
      Fred Aylward.

  2. @Marmoset - From what I have read there is no suggestion of handing Council-housed tenants a cardboard box and sending them to live under London Bridge. The proposal seems to be to relocation occupants from properties which are too big for them, to smaller Council houses when they are available. That sounds sensible to me?
    Regarding the transfer of Council houses to the private sector, I disagree with this practice as it depletes the available stock. However I understand its original intention was to encourage the occupants(usually relatively poor) into home ownership and taking responsibility for themselves rather than surviving on the welfare state. In fairness, Council housed occupants are offered a large discount to the market value to help them on their way. Which is more than any of us in the private sector ever get offered!

    @Sue - I certainly think anyone in a 'well-paid job' should not be in a Council house but should be in the private sector, yes. But the reason I think that is because state housing was set up to provide temporary housing to the poor to help them improve their lives, which it sounds like your neighbour has achieved. Do you think it right that say, Bob Crow who is on £145k per annum should stay in his Council house forever like he currently does?

    @Anon - whether I appear humane to you or not is irrelevant. This proposal makes sense to me and your listing of groups of people in society who are hard done by offers no reason for me to change my mind. For want of a better example, again does Bob Crow fall into any of these: "the elderly,the vunerable,the poor and disabled" (sic)? In fact I expect the majority of Council house occupiers do not either from what I see in the Council estates around where I live. The fact is, Council houses are a public not a private facility. Therefore occupiers should expect there to be some negatives to occupying them, such as a change in government policy. Unless you own the place yourself you cannot determine what the owner does with it. Imagine me trying to tell my landlord 'sorry mate you cant sell your house'. These are the facts and sorry if some occupiers allowed themselves to think they had a right to occupy Council property endlessly.

    Anyway its not exactly a tax. I assume that Bedroom Tax is a phrase devised by the left to try to scorn government suggestions. A tax is money actually paid to the government, not a reduction in funds received from it.

    1. Firstly, Marmoset has made the point that there are no one-bed flats available, or if there are, they are more expensive. Since he is currently unable to work he will continue to claim benefit, and if he moved to a smaller more expensive flat the cost to the tax payer would increase.

      The point here is also that people cannot be relocated because there are few suitable properties to be relocated to, because the money from RTB never went into building more homes. So whilst they wait, they must subsist on £15 less a week than they did before, and that could be for a very long time. £15 is a lot when you're living on £50 a week. That is why campaigners are calling it a tax.

      Regarding my neighbour, I was mistaken, it is a 3-bed flat, where he brought up his children. His circumstances have changed, and perhaps he could afford to rent privately, or, God forbid, buy his flat at a ridiculously cheap price, heavily subsidised by the tax payer. The old lady below him in the same sized flat was on benefits and has been relocated to sheltered housing, I believe, which is probably better for her but not an option for those much younger than her. My point here was that it is only people on housing benefit who are required to relocate.

      Meanwhile, Mr ---- in the post was told his benefit cut would encourage him to get a job – when he already has one, as a low-paid carer.

      BTW, do you support a cap on private rents? Or are you happy for rents to get higher and less affordable so that low-paid workers can no longer afford to live in this city (or require housing benefit that goes straight into the pockets of landlords)?

    2. When I signed my tenancy agreement 35 years ago I was never under the impression it was temporary.It is a secure tenancy and I have the right to stay in social housing for as long as I like.DP needs to get his facts straight and come along to the demo on Saturday and see who is affected by the bedroom tax.Fred Aylward

    3. Margaret from the deadFriday, July 12, 2013

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. @Sue I think where a tenant has shown willing to be relocated but the Council has no smaller properties available then that tenant shouldn't be deducted £15 a week from benefits whilst they wait - is that is what is being proposed as if so then that is unfair?

    I think everyone living in Council housing should be reassessed every couple of years and if their circumstances change for the better they should make way for the more needy. Otherwise if someone in a Council home wins the lottery (Bob Crow) technically they could stay there forever regardless of being loaded. The issue however is, that there is no incentive for many people in receipt of Council housing to improve their situation as by doing so they would jeopardise their Council homes, it truly is a welfare trap.
    Re private rents I support a mechanism to control them yes. I think rental increases should possibly be linked to CPI for sitting tenants etc...

    @Fred You were VERY lucky to get such tenant friendly terms without occasional means testing to check that you actually need the benefit of Council housing. This is not the norm for those of us in the private sector who do not qualify for Council housing, believe me!
    I don't think its anyone's 'right' to have Council housing however, I think its a benefit which some people are lucky to receive. I don't qualify for Council housing, surely some members of society shouldn't benefit from more rights than others? Its purely an income related benefit. Unfortunately original leases to Council tenants bestowed too many rights on tenants and not enough on the property owners (taypayers) allowing people to live in Council properties for as long as they like unquestioned. This concept of 'a home for life' is what is worsening the glut in the system now. That and moronic local Councils not ensuring private developers construct more social homes in these massive private developments.