This blog cannot and does not speak for the myriad autonomous anti-bedroom tax groups across merseyside and the UK.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

All Landlords Are Bastards: The Case of the Kent Two

The Wilsons

Gobshites Fergus and Judith Wilson (above) have called time on renting to current and prospective tenants who access in and out-of-work benefits they're entitled to because "Landlords are business people and we are looking to make a profit."

With Universal Credit round the corner (somewhere) and housing benefit already slashed, these horrible bastards are concerned that they won't be able to sustain the profiteering they've grown accustomed to.

So, their solution is turf out tenants accessing housing benefit and start exploiting "eastern European people who are working".

There has been a recent spike in tenants organising against landlords, mostly private tenant groups angered by increasing rents and mostly groups or associations deploying awareness-raising tactics.

This is not enough. Landlords (social & private) must be confronted directly, and collectively, because all other options default to the state and its legal apparatus; locking struggles within their terms and preventing working class people from defining the fight. 

Remodelled solidarity networks, most prevalant in the states, have been practicing  ways of organising that puts mutual aid, direct action and direct desicion-making at the core of their struggles, but there are limitations to what these networks can accomplish and often, over time, they end up replicating dis-empowering Third Sector organisations.

We will not move any step further towards our objectives if we continue to use diplomatic, concessionary and non-confrontational tactics. Landlords and their ilk are not arsed about tenants and will only react if they are truly threatened. Anything less will result in the continued exploitation of tenants (us) by parasites like Fergus and Judith.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Councillors employed by North Lincolnshire Homes verbally attack bedroom tax-hit tenants

These two work for North Lincolnshire Council:

Cllr Liz Redfern (image via www.VisitScunthorpe.Com)

Cllr Robert Waltham
They've recently been in the news verbally attacking North Lincs tenants hit by the bedroom tax. They are trying to scapegoat tenants, who have the gall to make life a little bit more bearable for themselves, by refusing discretionary housing payments (DHP) based on 'undeserving'/'deserving' criteria. 

Today, North Lincolnshire Homes, now OnGo, set about distancing themselves from Cllrs Waltham and Redfern by responding to allegations that they were complicit in the verbal attacks on bedroom tax-hit tenants and the DHP application process:

Combat Workfare understand that North Lincs Homes doesn't have any involvement in the DHP applications process, but they tweeted it anyway to deflect from what we were actually getting at: that both Councillors Waltham and Redfern are directors at North Lincolnshire Homes and its partnership limited company OnGo respectively.

North Lincolnshire Homes are bullshitters. They insist they want to help tenants "as best we can", yet they employ, and most likely pay, Councillors to sit on their board and let their verbal attacks on tenants go unchallenged.

Still they insisted on distancing themselves from North Lincs council:
As pointed out by Joe Halewood, "49 out of 50 who apply for a bedroom tax DHP will not get one". A DHP refusal rate that is being directly impacted-on by the vicious policies of Cllrs Waltham & Redfern, who sit on the boards of one of North Lincs largest housing associations.

It's about time CEO of OnGo and North Lincolnshire Homes Andy Orrey started giving some answers to why these Councillors are allowed to sit on the board, when they clearly have such disdain for North Lincs tenants.

Let North Lincs Homes & the Councillors know what you think:

Cllr Robert Waltham:

Telephone Number: 01652652021
Mobile Number: 07977987903
Email Address:

Cllr Liz Redfern:

Tel: 01724 297556

Mobile: 07717 587596

Andy Orrey, CEO of OnGo (North Lincolnshire Holmes):

twitter: @AndyOrrey

North Lincolnshire Homes:

twitter: @nlhomes

Monday, 21 October 2013

Former ‘World's most unpleasant Young Conservative’ claims bedroom tax is helping tenants

Harry, Phibbs

Just some brief notes on news out today that the bedroom tax is apparently “getting thousands into work”.

The author of the Conservative Home blogpost that carries the above headline, toff tory councillor Harry Phibbs, has conducted “an extensive piece of research” to support his claim. We’ve requested Phibbs make the FOI requests/replies available to the public so they can be scrutinized.

Although the headline is a tory neck swinger, Phibbs spends most of the blog explaining caveats to the figures, ending with a feeble attempt at turning the bedroom tax into a work-related success. Bollocks. 

The reality is the bedroom tax, in concert with the rest of welfare attacks, is destroying lives, upending communities and severing socially supportive networks for hundreds of thousands of tenants. But the Gov doesn’t want voters to dwell on that stuff when they’re attempting to entrench divisions within the working class or trying to prop up a piece of crumbling legislation.

And Phibbs, once voted “The world's most unpleasant Young Conservative, certainly won’t want to be dwelling on the human cost as he spins on some easily, deliberately misinterpreted figures.

Expect more shite from Phibbs all this week.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Can't Pay, Won't Pay: Callout for Non-Payers to Go Public

ImageMerseyside Federation of Anti-Bedroom Tax Groups is looking for a group of tenants to publicly declare their non-payment. This is part of a new strategy of pressuring local councils to put their money where their mouth is, and take action on tribunal rulings which should end the coalition’s hated and destructive policy.

The Conservative/Lib Dem government is very much on the back foot over the bedroom tax. The report by Raquel Rolnik of the United Nations was a devastating condemnation of the suffering the measure has imposed on already vulnerable people. Also, tribunal after tribunal has found in favour of tenants, and against councils, over the implementation of the bedroom tax.

The government has declared it will appeal against the judgement in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, which found that Fife Council – and therefore all councils – had acted contrary to the law when they simply took the social landlord’s word over the number of bedrooms in each property. The tribunal found that each council must take into account room size, available floor space, purpose, and usage of each room. It definitively ruled that rooms of under seventy square feet cannot be classed as a bedroom.

When Ed Miliband announced Labour’s pledge to axe the bedroom tax if they come to power in 2015 (years too late for tenants struggling right now), Merseyside’s council leaders chimed in, all saying that they oppose the bedroom tax on a personal level, but can do nothing to challenge national government policy.

This is a lie.

All the region’s Labour councils have to do is comply with the law, as interpreted by the Kirkcaldy tribunal! Fife council have already agreed to do this, so if Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Halton councils all went along, the bedroom tax would be dealt a fatal blow, and the government would have to stop dragging its feet.

To make local council chiefs think again, Merseyside Federation of Anti-Bedroom Tax Groups propose a high profile campaign. Volunteer tenants:
  • must be prepared to take a public stand
  • would have to have handed in an appeal to help preserve their position (we can help with this)
  • would make two public statements – one to the housing association and one to the council, saying why they have been forced into this position
Tenants interested in being one of our non-payment volunteers should contact our secretary Juliet Edgar on 07528194137 or

[reposted from Merseyside Federation of Anti-Bedroom Tax Groups]

Monday, 23 September 2013

DWP issue new bedroom tax guidance to local authorities; Seek to appeal Fife ruling

removal of the spare room subsidy bulletin 23 sep

Friday, 20 September 2013

A room less than 70 sq ft is not liable for bedroom tax – Fife Council


The following is a press release from Merseyside Federation of Anti-Bedroom Tax Groups:

Following a first-tier benefit tribunal judgement* against Fife Council that a room of less than 70 sq ft is not a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes, an emergency meeting agreed today that this will now become official council policy. Earlier in the week the council announced that it would not appeal against the tribunal ruling. In separate judgements over the last two weeks, the benefit tribunal in Kirkcaldy has ruled that room purpose, usage and usable space are also issues that councils need to take into account in determining a tenant’s liability for the bedroom tax.

Secretary of Merseyside Federation of anti-Bedroom Tax Groups Juliet Edgar says: “This is is an important and very welcome decision. We have always said the process that councils went through in determining bedroom tax liability was fundamentally flawed since they did not take into account the space standards of the 1985 Housing Act or individual circumstances. Fife Council has set a precedent: we now insist that councils on Merseyside follow immediately.”

There are thousands of properties on Merseyside where tenants are paying bedroom tax for room less than 70 sq ft. The 1985 Housing Act space standard says that this is too small to serve as a bedroom for an adult. Councils and housing associations will now have to face up to the prospect of undertaking individual surveys of tens of thousands of social housing properties across Merseyside to record individual room sizes, their purpose and the use that is made of them. It is expected that at least 30% of all bedroom tax decisions will have to be set aside as a result.

Ms Edgar comments: “This is is an exercise that will take months. In the meantime, we demand that all existing bedroom tax decisions are set aside. Why should tenants continue to pay a tax for which they are not liable while councils do the job that they should have done at the outset?”

For further information contact Juliet Edgar on 07528194137

* Judgements SC108/13/01362 and SC108/13/01318. For a more detailed assessment of both judgements and their significance see

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bolton at Home concocts ‘no homelessness’ policy for bedroom tax-hit tenants

On August 19th ‘arms length’ housing association Bolton at Home (BH) announced a ‘no homelessness’ policy to mitigate the impact of the bedroom tax on BH tenants. This would seem like a tenant-supporting move, but when John Dunn, assistant director of housing services at BH, spent 7 paragraphs in the Guardian bemoaning the ‘no eviction’ policies some housing associations (HA) have adopted –in effect arguing for the necessity of evictions- it becomes clear that the reasoning underpinning the ‘no homelessness’ policy are wholly economic.

According to BH’s ‘no homelessness’ policy, if a tenant is evicted over the bedroom tax they’re given the option of moving into “another” property. The tenant is given one re-housing offer only and if they turn it down they can basically fuck off somewhere else.

With 11,000 tenants in Bolton chasing 91 one-bedroom properties, it leaves the policy vacuous. With a shortage of properties to ‘downsize’ to, BH’s only option would be to shift tenants into the private rented sector. And this, it seems, is what BH intend to do:
“We will use some of the empty properties generated by turnover in our stock to re-house affected tenants, as well as making use of private-sector leasehold properties.”
also BH:
“…would work with the private rented sector and Bolton Council to bring in suitable accommodation where possible.”
According to BH, though, it all depends on what kind of tenant you are. The narrative that BH concocts is that they are protecting the tenant from homelessness and simultaneously other tenants who would be indirectly hit “if rent is not collected.” But, like all state-aligned institutions, BH tries to bring tenants into conflict with each other by dividing them into good/deserving and bad/undeserving:
“’No eviction’ policies do not differentiate between those who can't pay and those who won't pay. It is unfair on those who go on struggling to pay the bedroom tax if others choose not to.”
Dunn does not mention the possibility that tenants who “won’t pay” might also be struggling and can’t pay, preferring to use them as scapegoats for the failure of housing associations to act in genuine solidarity with all tenants.

Bolton News reported in august that:
“They [Bolton at Home] said the policy will not apply if tenants are evicted for arrears that are the result of other factors, such as deliberate non-payment.”
While Dunn has-a-go at folk for focusing on the ‘morality’ of the bedroom tax, he uses his own courtroom tactics to moralise over the decisions made by BH tenants, and principally how those pesky tenants, unable to afford the fucking rent and can’t/won’t pay, are damaging the “service standards”, “credit” and “capital improvement projects” of Bolton at Home. Well, whoopee-fucking-do!

Meanwhile, Dunn shows whose side he’s really on with this mucky little outburst: 
“A ‘no eviction’ policy also sets a precedent for landlords. How can they then argue that they are right to evict in cases where arrears are caused by other factors, such as government cuts to tax credits, welfare benefits, increases in non-dependant deductions, and so on?”
The chances are if you’re struggling with the bedroom tax then you’re probably, -whether you can’t or won’t pay- struggling with rent full stop, especially if you’re being threatened with eviction by your HA. So, what difference does it make if you come under the ‘no homelessness’ policy, or not, if you’re going to get shunted into private-rented property anyways? Fuck all.

By slapping the politically loaded term ‘homelessness’ on a mirage-of-a-policy BH merely, and most likely briefly, score some brownie points with the Boltonian electorate and council. If they were truly acting in the interests of their tenants, then they would have adopted a no-evictions policy that protects all tenants from reform and crisis. Instead, they’ve chosen to divide the Bolton at Home tenant community and concentrate on protecting their more important capital assets: bricks and mortar.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Combat the Bedroom Tax's Brief Guide to Direct Action

"Harpooned to the sides of capitalistic society it shall tear and bleed it until the shark turns the final somersault" - Émile Pouget

"Direct action may be the extreme of violence, or it may be as peaceful as the waters of the Brook of Shiloa that go softly." - Voltairine de Cleyre

Direct action is taking matters into our own hands

Direct action is not a boycott

Direct action is not dependent on approval from the state

Direct action is under the control of the participants

Direct action is not a letter to your MP

Direct action is chasing bailiffs off

Local residents prevent bailiffs from entering property in Liverpool

Direct action is not a petition

Direct action is not, nor never will be, lobbying the local council

Direct action is expropriation of food to feed your family

Unemployed take food from Mercadona and Carrefour in mass action in Andalucia

Direct action is not a foodbank

Direct action is a wildcat strike

Direct action is not a march from point A to B

Direct action is the Gulabi Gang
Direct action is not a symbolic protest

UKuncut activists outside Nick Clegg's House

Direct action is fighting for ourselves

Direct action is not about the media

Direct action is not civil disobedience

Direct action is sabotage

Direct action “subscribes to notions of freedom and autonomy”

Direct action is the "normal function" of working class resistance


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Merseyside Bedroom Tax Federation: After The Storm

Repost via Infantile Disorder:

During the spring, the Merseyside Federation of Anti-Bedroom Tax Groups was formed, following weeks of frenzied activity. Neighbourhood-based groups from all across the region sent delegates to meetings in Liverpool town centre, and amidst a buzz of excitement, an anti-oppression motion was unanimously agreed.

But the trouble began when it became clear that one local anti-bedroom tax group - based in Knowsley - had strong links to notorious local fascists. Knowsley sought to join the Federation, and anti-fascists tried to raise the alarm. But at the next Federation meeting, the Knowsley application was steamrollered through by the chair, who refused to allow antifascists permission to air their concerns. The next moment I received a tweet from a jubilant Knowsley admin, threatening to take me to court for my "lies" (I'm yet to hear anything further, by the way). Following this, the Federation Twitter account published statements attacking "the anarchists", aimed at covering up the chair's undemocratic actions.

At a special meeting called to look into whether "the Federation [had] been brought into disrepute", Knowsley's affiliation application was withdrawn, and no-one from that group has attended any further meetings. In the meantime, local groups have continued doing some excellent work, but the issue of what happened at the 1st June meeting has been the elephant in the room at a federal level.

Today, over a tense and very emotional hour and a half, delegates had it out. This was prompted by a motion from one of the local groups, which called for "The activists who have made public statements attacking the Federation" (a reference to those who had called-out the behaviour of individuals within the Federation) to "withdraw them". Further, "all groups agree not to make public statements attacking the Federation or members of the Federation", and later on, "concerns or disagreements to be put in writing and discussed at a full Federation meeting and to agree with the democratic decision at that meeting".

There was lots of back and forth about the merits or otherwise of what antifascists had written in their whistleblowing blog posts, but when one speaker described the motion as "top down", and another characterised it as "policing" what individuals are doing when "we're not the state", it was agreed to amend the resolution to the following:

"The Federation is to unite in practise whenever possible and assist all groups to become bigger and stronger in fighting the bedroom tax and cuts in welfare benefit.

"To agree to a Code of Conduct. Differences should be respected, and all members have a right to express their positions and discuss in a frank, open and respectful way.

"Members should not make personal attacks. The Chairperson to pull members to order when personal attacks are made and if the person persists they be asked to leave the meeting."

The amendment was backed by a majority of three, out of eleven voting delegates. While such a margin shows there are still tensions and suspicions within the group, there was a sense that the air has been cleared somewhat, and hopes that the Federation will be able to put the infighting behind us, so we can get on with the urgent work of challenging the bedroom tax. With fascists unable to spread their divisive poison anywhere near affiliated groups, we can proceed with some confidence.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Bedroom Tax Roundup: Ring of Steel & Wirral Rally

Reposts from Infantile Disorder:

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Merseyside Activists Face Down Thieving Bailiffs 

Despite heavy rain, a group of Merseyside activists got together at very short notice on Wednesday morning, to face down bailiffs intent on snatching and destroying a homeless woman's belongings.

The woman - who is in her fifties and a stroke survivor - had lived at the Knowsley Housing Trust property for many years. Her husband had been killed in an industrial incident, and her children had left home, leaving her home "underoccupied" in the eyes of the government, who hit her with the bedroom tax in April, and her arrears quickly grew.

Knowsley Housing Trust evicted the woman last week. At Saturday's 'Enuf Is Enuf' event in Liverpool city centre, her daughter described how she got on her knees to beg bailiffs not to throw her out of her home. These pleas fell on deaf ears, and she was informed that she had four weeks to remove her property from the house, which was initially left tinned up with pet animals trapped inside. However, on Tuesday the woman was told the bailiffs would be coming for her things today. It was at this point she made her first contact with local anti-bedroom tax activists, and they planned to form a "ring of steel" around the door of the building.

On Wednesday morning, with "ring of steel" in place, a Knowsley Housing Trust van drove past and drove on down the road, but the bailiffs did not call. Clearly, the woman at the centre of it all is still in a desperate situation, but she is receiving solidarity from people determined to help her.

Please let Knowsley Housing Trust know what you think of their behaviour: @knowsleyhousing; 0151 290 7000,

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Wirral Estate Rallies to Oppose Bedroom Tax 

Outside the One Stop Shop. Photo: @
Around fifty people marched from the Woodward Road estate in Rock Ferry, Wirral, to the local council One Stop Shop yesterday lunchtime, in a display of defiance against the bedroom tax. A high concentration of people on the estate are affected by one of the coalition government's most vicious domestic policies, and with the possibility of evictions looming, tenants are organising themselves to defend their homes.

The demonstration began at a quarter to twelve, and walked just over a mile to the One Stop Shop, where several residents handed in their latest appeal forms, and signed a petition. The event was entirely self-organised and stewarded by bedroom tax campaigners, with no involvement from police. It was the first Wirral demo of any kind outside of Wallasey and Birkenhead town centre in many years, and all the more remarkable for taking place during the middle of a week day.

Maybe ten people from bedroom tax campaigns across Merseyside made the journey to Rock Ferry to offer their solidarity, but the bulk of the participants were from Woodward Road - an extraordinary achievement for a grassroots community organisation. Women, men and children all played their part to make as much noise as possible, and really announced their group's existence to the rest of Rock Ferry. Some held homemade placards and banners with pride, while others blew whistles and chanted.

One particular chant - so familiar to long-time campaigners - took on a poignant new meaning in the mouths of children on their first ever demonstration. "Whose streets? Our streets!" shouted young people on the streets where they have grown up, but from which they are now threatened with removal for the crime of poverty.

When the procession reached the One Stop Shop, speeches were made appeals were handed in en masse, with staff looking quite bemused and flustered at being greeted by a demonstration at work.

In the scheme of things, fifty people at a demonstration might not seem like a lot, and indeed one passerby who uploaded photos to the 'Wirral Talk' website described it as "Very Small Bedroom Tax March". But what the photographer probably didn't realise was that this was the work of just one estate.

While most 'left' parties focus their attentions on the small proportion of the working class who are unionised, the ruling class austerity onslaught is creating whole communities who have nothing to lose from fighting back. The tragedy is that there are many other Woodward Road estates where people have yet to collectively organise, and where individuals feel desperately alone. May the growing Woodward Road resistance inspire people around Merseyside, and throughout the whole country!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation Go Animal Farm on "The Anarchists"

The following is a repost from Infantile Disorder, covering Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation's recent attempts to smear "anarchist" involvement in the anti-bedroom tax campaign on Merseyside:

 In a sickening act of deceit, the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation Twitter account has begun attacking "the anarchists" with misinformation designed to cover for the undemocratic actions of the committee in the run-up to affiliating with the fascist-linked Knowsley group. In doing so, it is attacking some of those who first came up with the idea for an anti-bedroom tax campaign, who put in much of the early spadework, and continue to work hard in their communities. It is also labeling all those who oppose the committee as "anarchists", merely because they are consistently standing up for democratic norms and against fascism.

This flurry of tweets came a week ago, in response to a woman from down south who had come across my article 'Affiliating With Fascists and The Poison of 'Left' Opportunism'. She was understandably alarmed and wanted to spread the information. The MABTF account responded with "Don't be drawn in Michelle, anarchists trying to destroy fed and the enormous amount of work gone on", and "@MABTF is vehemently anti-fascist".

The first part of this is just silly. Anarchists and others are angry about the Knowsley affiliation precisely because they are worried that allowing the allies of fascists into the Federation will destroy it, by effectively excluding those particularly targeted by fascists. The second part is true only to the extent that an anti-oppression motion was originally passed by the Federation, with those labelled as "anarchists" to the fore in promoting it. However, this unanimously approved motion was then dismissed as "something to work towards" by the committee's chair, as she pushed for a vote on affiliating Knowsley. So while "the anarchists" are "vehemently anti-fascist", and the anti-oppression motion they drafted certainly was, the Federation cannot be said to be. For the Federation chair, we work towards abolishing oppression by allowing some of the most oppressive scum to be found anywhere a potential seat at the table.

When the woman who posted my article asked why anyone would try to break the Federation, @MABTF declared that "the anarchists" had "been destructive from the beginning and think screaming in peoples faces is debate".

Anarchists tend not to be backward in coming forward about their beliefs, and frustration at opportunism has created a lot of anger, but no screaming in anyone's face has taken place at Federation meetings. This is more fiction.

But even more ridiculous is the claim that "the anarchists" have been destructive of the bedroom tax movement "from the beginning". The truth is that it was an anarchist who came up with the idea of a mass meeting on the bedroom tax last autumn. Those dismissed as "the anarchists" did much of the work building for, organising, and facilitating that meeting, which took place at the Black-E in January. As many local groups sprang out of that central meeting, it was an anarchist who went to each group's initial meeting, giving a Powerpoint presentation on the bedroom tax and his ideas about how it could be fought.

Since then, "the anarchists" have been extremely active in their respective local groups, helping to arrange meetings, going leafleting, taking part in actions/lobbying of local politicians and housing associations, and assisting those who have been filling in appeal forms. This certainly shouldn't get them any special treatment, but it should entitle them to some basic respect.

Though many of "the anarchists" do indeed describe themselves as anarchists, by no means all of them do. Some prefer to call themselves communists, others socialists, and others are quite new to political activism, and do not want to label themselves at the moment, as is their absolute right. But to the committee of Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, anyone who opposes their Machiavellian maneuverings is one of "the anarchists". Anyone who wants open democracy within the Federation is apparently an anarchist. Anyone who consistently opposes fascism is supposedly an anarchist.

The reasons for this are not clear, but there are two main possibilities. For those on the committee who identify as Trotskyists, it is a convenient catch-all political label which they will have used for many years. But perhaps more importantly, in the public consciousness it is normally associated with 'chaos', 'trouble-makers' and even 'bomb-throwers'. This is an idea popularised by the rich and their servants down the years, precisely with the intention of scaring the working class away from militant action in their own interests.

It is a shameful state of affairs for the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation committee to stoop so low.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation

Merseyside anti-bedroom tax groups on the march

It’s been a tense slog but after months of meetings and discussion: today, anti-bedroom tax groups across Merseyside met to conclusively set in place the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation.

The federation is run by the members of local groups through a meeting of local group-mandated, recallable delegates. Delegate meetings are open, but only group-mandated delegates can vote. A one group one vote system is in place. Organisations (trade unions, etc) are encouraged to affiliate and participate with/within their local anti-bedroom tax group.

Federation delegates elected recallable officers to the following roles:

Chair – Celia Ralph (Dingle Combat the Bedroom Tax)
Secretary – Juliet Edgar (ReClaim Anti-Bedroom Tax Group)
Treasurer – Andrea Wall (Stand Up In Halton)
Press Officer – (Paul Jones, Dingle Combat the Bedroom Tax; Paul Cooke: ReClaim Anti-Bedroom Tax Group)

On attempts to divide working class people:
"The Federation stands in solidarity with all those fighting the cuts to the welfare state, and against those who wish to divide us. We will brook no such attempts, on the grounds of race, religion, gender, status, or any other spurious grounds [to divide the working class]"
On this basis, the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation have adopted the following anti-oppression statement:
"The bedroom tax is an attack on the working class and affects people of all races, nationalities, genders and sexualities. In order to prevent people of colour (PoC), migrants, women, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) and people with disabilities (sensory, mental & physical) from being excluded, we cannot allow far right organisations like the EDL, BNP and the National Front, who act to threaten and discriminate against people on the basis of race, nationality, gender and sexuality, to gain a foothold in the movement.
  • As a federation, we will not associate with racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise oppressive organisations and/or their members 
  • Racist, sexist, homophobic organisations and/or their members are not welcome at meetings, demonstrations or other events that the federation or its member groups have organised. 
  • The federation will not support or promote events or local groups that involve racist, sexist and homophobic organisations."
On fighting the bedroom tax: 
"The federation will fight these iniquitous cuts, starting with the bedroom tax, by any means necessary. This may include a non-payment campaign and direct actions: it is better to break the law than to break the poor."
(The above is a composite of the Merseyside Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation founding motion & anti-oppression statement. Fully amended copies of the motion will be made available during the week.)
The fight against the bedroom tax reaches a crucial stage over the next few months, as a bedroom tax eviction battle looms on Merseyside. With a federation in place and with continuing efforts to strengthen the movement, we've just taken a level-up in a rapidly escalating class war.

Next federation delegate meeting is Sat 1st of June.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Jacobs Bailiffs' headquarters occupied by anti-bedroom tax demonstrators

Parasites in partnership

Demonstrators occupied the Merseyside headquarters of Jacobs Bailiffs on Monday, in what will be a slap in the chops to the parasites feeding off working class communities. We reported in an earlier post that Jacobs Bailiffs were gearing up to exploit people thrown into chaos by the government's attacks on welfare, offering delegates at a recent conference the opportunity to "maximise collections" through Jacobs' "Welfare Reform Recovery" Strategy. So, we decided to pay them a visit.

During the occupation (and parallel-run communication blockade), Simon Jacobs (BSc), co-owner of Jacobs Bailiffs, repeatedly denied that they would be enforcing bedroom tax evictions*, but what he could not deny is the harassment tactics employed in retrieving (stealing) money/goods from people trapped in a vicious cycle of debt. In fact, he seemed proud that this was his chosen vocation (and the tactics that go with it) and gloated about the 'legitimacy' of his business.

In the winter 2012 edition of the Jacobs Newsletter, the company 'meditates' on the challenging times ahead for local authorities, especially with welfare reform changes from 2013:
"Collection and recovery will never be as important next year as Authorities face reduced budgets through loss of funding in addition to internal spending reviews and efficiency savings initiatives."
They go on to ruminate:
"There are a number of options identified for the collection of this new category of [welfare] debt, and indeed, Jacobs have begun discussing these options with clients over the last few months."
"Whilst the growing numbers of debt to collect may be of low value, principle collection process can still be ‘business as usual’.(our emphasis)
A closing question to a welfare reform article in the newsletter asks:
"Can it be ‘business as usual’ for the collection process next year – YES"
When Simon Jacobs and his cronies were interrogated on their intention to exploit people hit by welfare reform, we were met with a deathly silence which answered on behalf of the exploiters.

Jacobs Bailiffs are part of an industry that actively seeks out, harasses and coerces people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in debt. Whatever the reason for debt, it should not be blamed on the individual actions of borrowers! Individuals are led into borrowing by low wages, meagre benefits and the insidious pressures to consume. 

With welfare attacks now in full swing and families suffering as a result, bailiffs must be challenged, resisted and opposed in our streets, neighbourhoods and communities as they ramp-up their collection efforts. Bailiffs, part of an exploitative economic system, sanctioned by business, banks & government, hold working class people to ransom every day.

1,374 Consumer County Court Judgements (CCJs) are issued every day; 84 properties are repossessed every day; 154 mortgage possession claims are issued and 111 mortgage possession orders are made every day; 426 landlord possession claims are issued; and 297 landlord possession orders are made every day in the UK.

In the months to come, bailiffs will be called upon to seize goods, take rent arrears, council tax and property. We have to start fighting back and taking that fight direct to their doorstep whilst protecting our own. It's immaterial whether Jacobs Bailiffs commit evictions or not (there'll be plenty of bailiffs targeted who do), the disclosure of welfare reform as a stream of bailiff revenue inculcates them in a global robbery of the working class (both in and out of work). And let's not forget: at the end of the day they're fucking bailiff scum.

More anti-bailiff actions on the way.

*clarified that Jacobs don't commit eviction

Saturday, 27 April 2013

We know bailiffs are bastards, but this is fucked up!

In what can only be described as sickening parasitism, Jacobs Bailiffs recently posted a news article touting for business at a recent Revenues, Rating and Valuation Conference. The news article included this line:
"With Welfare Reforms taking effect from 1st April the Jacobs team can talk you through our recovery strategies for maximising collections."

We all know Bailiffs are bastards, but this is fucking foul. Remember the above sentence, remember it well. To seek to pilfer off a working class, whether employed or unemployed, facing some of the worst attacks on welfare, on working conditions...these piggin fuckers should be dismantled wherever and whenever they have the audacity to surface in our communities.

On monday, let's kickstart a summer of anti-bailiff actions against these horrorbags. Join the communications blockade against Jacobs Bailiffs:

If you're not on facebook, the deatils of the communications blockade have been posted here:
“There can be no greater infringement of an individuals civil liberties than to have a sheriff officer examine their personal belongings to ascertain if there is anything worth poinding”
Fuck the bailiffs!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Phone/Text Blast Liverpool Councillors -Thurs, 25th April

Liverpool Councillors have refused to make a stand against the bedroom tax, despite public displays of ‘sympathy’ shown to affected tenants.

Liverpool Labour Councillors Barbara Murray, Tony Concepcion, Paul Brant, Mary Rasmussen, Mary Aspinall, Peter Mitchell, Alan Walker, Beatrice Fraenkel, Louise Baldock, Irene Rainey sit on the boards or divisional boards of Liverpool Housing Associations — picking upwards of 3k just for attending meetings.

Cllr Louise Baldock, Vice-chair of Venture Housing, recently told a crowd of anti-bedroom tax protesters that there would be no evictions over the bedroom tax, but later withdrew the statement after admitting she only said it to shut certain people up: []

Cllr Steve Mumby recently told a tenants’ meeting that his hands ‘were tied’ over the bedroom tax: []

On the 12th April, Liverpool Council rejected a motion that called for no evictions over the bedroom tax: []

As the bedroom tax begins to strike 12,000 Liverpool tenants and their families, moving them further into poverty, it’s time we let our 'representatives' know that we'll be taking matters into our own hands from now on.

Liverpool Councillors on boards of housing associations

On Thurs 25th April, Phone/text blast Liverpool Councillors and let them know what you think of their refusal to axe the bedroom tax. 

You can jam the Labour Group Office phone based in Municipal Buildings on Dale St. Leave a recorded message, play music down the phone, whatever you like to let Councillors know that they can’t hide in their surgeries answering questions about potholes any longer.

Labour Group Office tel: 0151 225 2366

2 Labour Councillors, both on boards of housing associations have kindly provided their mobile phone numbers:

Councillor Louise Baldock (Venture Housing): 07774 786532
Councillor Tony Concepcion (Riverside Housing): 07874 216868

Be sure to switch your phone caller ID off in settings if you don’t want your number to go show.

Also, Libdem Cllr Richard Kemp, Chair of Plus Dane Housing, can be reached on 0151 225 2354.

You can also email Councillors. Separate their first name and surname with a fullstop and add to the end, e.g.:

Phone/Text Blast Liverpool Councillors Facebook event:

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Tenants to give bedroom tax architects £140 million slap in the face

The below quotation alludes to a potential £140 million non-payment cost to social landlords and a huge slap in the face to the architects of the bedroom tax:

"I had a national editor on the phone to me two weeks ago saying they have polled Local Authorities up and down the country asking their views on how many tenants would NOT pay the bedroom tax shortfall.  While this can only be a view or a best guess the answer was about 20% – 25% of those with 1 spare bedroom would not pay anything and on average 50% of those with 2+ spare bedrooms would pay nothing.  That in money terms translated to about a £140m non-payment and a £140m hit to social landlords."

We picked this out of a recent post, from the ever-informative Joe Halewood's SPeye blog, explaining the response a tenant got from their landlord basically saying, 'whilst your bedroom tax appeal is going through, you can pay us £3.60 p/w instead of the full amount.' (please read Joe's blogpost, Bedroom Tax - A VERY interesting development! for more info on that bombshell).

The cost to the social landlord will be much higher than the £140 million, but it's worth noting that there is an undercurrent of non-payment that for obvious reasons has not been reported-on yet.

More details to follow. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Combat The Bedroom Tax Conference Held In Liverpool

Conference-goers overwhelmingly argued for local autonomy

The following is a repost from Infantile Disorder, covering the anti-bedroom tax conference in Merseyside on Saturday 6th April:

Inch by painstaking inch, what began in the heads of a few Liverpool activists last November has become a relatively large grassroots movement, with Combat The Bedroom Tax groups sprouting up in neighbourhoods fanning out across Merseyside. For many, going to a political meeting has become a matter of taking a short walk from their homes down the road.

This rapid success can be explained by a combination of two main factors. First, the crying material need which many on Merseyside have to find a way out of their government-imposed bedroom tax misery. Many already just about scraping by on the breadline are now - since 1st April - having to find tens of pounds per week in order to avoid falling into rent arrears. For those already in arrears, the bedroom tax will likely trigger a tipping point which could produce evictions within weeks, not months.

But secondly, grassroots rank and file control has been an essential feature of the movement, dating back to the first mass meeting in mid-January. For many long-standing activists in the area, it has been a breath of fresh air to organise and take action on a mass basis, with no alienating top tables and no long-winded speeches from 'left' politicians or trade union officials slumming it for the day. For the large majority of participants with little to no direct political experience, it has already been a hugely empowering experience, with many discovering a sense of hope brought about by taking part of their destiny into their own hands. Despair is turning to constructive anger.

A few weeks back, one long-standing activist proposed a federal structure, the better to co-ordinate various aspects of our collective activity - for instance organising demonstrations such as the one which took place in the city centre last week. A conference was organised at the Unite building on Islington in the city centre, and was publicised in the many local groups.

The eighty or so participants who assembled for the conference yesterday were - almost inevitably - more drawn from the long-standing 'activist' background than the neighbourhood meetings are. However, there was still a healthy balance in favour of newcomers, and around half the participants are themselves being hit by the bedroom tax. Anarcho-bastard has given a good summary of the proceedings here.

In addition to what he has written, I would add that a small minority of the long-standing activists present wish to take the bedroom tax movement in a different direction - one with more centralised control, and a large say for trade unions. Ultimately, this would reduce the sense of ownership which local groups feel over their own struggle, and therefore play into the hands of the ruling class, large sections of which are seeking the privatisation of 'social housing'. The repeated mention of the "West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation" as a model to follow was particularly concerning.

Anyway, a federal motion was put forward, which will debated in local groups over the next couple of weeks. Whatever individuals may want, and whatever agendas they may have, the genie of grassroots, community-based anger is now out of the bottle, and no trade union bureaucrat will be able to force it back in. The stakes are simply too high for that.

As Anarcho-bastard concluded:
"The focus on direct action and direct democracy is very encouraging. It’s vital that tenants retain control of this struggle and don’t allow themselves to be used by parties or unions for their own politicking. Where this movement goes next should be up to the tenants who are affected by the tax. The will to fight is there and soon the tools will be there too."

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Labour snubs Liverpool grassroots anti-bedroom tax campaign in confidential email

Liverpool Labour confidential email

A few weeks ago Dingle Combat the Bedroom Tax tenants’ Group decided to invite every Liverpool councillor they could contact to face questions over the Bedroom Tax. They knew that the responses would be tokenistic, but nevertheless, the date was set and yesterday, 2nd April, tenants eagerly awaited a concerned troop of councillors.

They sent along one Liverpool Labour Councillor, Steve Mumby, which is slightly better than a kick in the chops. Unbeknown to Mumby, one of the tenants snapped a confidential document that Steve had been referring to whilst he was being annihilated by the meeting. Seems like Liverpool Labour have been having a proper chinwag about Combat the Bedroom Tax:
It’s difficult to make out from first glance, but closer inspection and some image enhancement has allowed the following to be transcribed.

[] = omitted due to illegibility 
Subject:  Invitation to South Liverpool Bedroom Tax Campaign Group Meeting

Importance: High
Sensitivity: Confidential

From: Baldock, Louise
Sent: 20 March 2013 22:10
To: Dean, Alan
Subject RE: Invitation to South Liverpool Bedroom Tax Campaign Group Meeting
Sensitivity: Confidential

Hi Alan,

I don’t mind writing back but that is not what they really want.

They want to see one of us there, to shout at us and get angry and let of some of their steam.

I could go and see them, into the lions den, into the angry nest, if none of you want to go yourselves and I can see why you wouldn’t want to, although I’m not a south Liverpool councillor and have no brief(?) for the city’s strategy over welfare benefit management.

Unfortunately our answers to their questions are not great because our 
national party have not got their [] right on this yet -  as I have said many times and the Mayor has said too.

I’m not sure how it could be in any way constructive other than to stop it from looking like we are not scared to face them.

Answers would be something like this if you are happy with them then I can send them to the questioner on behalf of you all? but they will slate us for not turning up.

What are your doing and what do you intend to do to prevent Liverpool residents from being evicted from their homes?

Labour Councillors in Liverpool have established a grassroots members’ campaign which has been called out nationally to demand that the Government abolishes the bedroom tax and which calls upon the Parliamentary Labour Party to commit to abolish it when they are able to form a Government. We have funded this campaign ourselves personally most of the expense being in the establishment of a network(?) where tenants can share their stories and where Labour campaigners can access campaign materials to use in their local groups/areas(?).

We also unanimously passed a motion in the Town Hall which you may have read about in the Liverpool Echo a few weeks ago.

You will be aware that the council itself has no housing stock, all homes having been transferred through stock transfer some years ago under the Lib Dem administration. That said, many Labour councillors are members of Housing Associations, either independently or as appointments from the local authority, and they will be party to discussions about how each association can best manage the bedroom tax and the introduction of universal credit paid directly to tenants to minimize the threat to tenancies. Some of them may well be discussing non/eviction policies. Some of them are also discussing, with our support, measures to help fund the cost of moving, or support with caretaker services to make it easier to do so on the day.

Despite all the proclamations and woolly statements by the Labour Party of how evil the bedroom tax is, they can’t/won’t even commit to abolishing it themselves, as indicated in the email. The reason for this is, as Labour MP Helen Goodman announced in a recent ITV interview, ‘they would keep the bedroom tax’.

Louise Baldock, who penned the email, is a Labour Councillor and Vice-chair of Venture Housing Association, who previously misled the public on Venture’s bedroom tax eviction policy, just to shut a campaigner up. You can read more about that incident here. The email is addressed to Alan Dean, who is Chief Whip of the Liverpool Labour Party Group.

The email clearly indicates that Labour cannot be bothered with the hassle of interacting with a grassroots tenants’ movement that will ask difficult questions and won’t be fooled by the machinations of a party who are clearly after votes off the back of the bedroom tax campaign. Instead, they've forked out dollar on "the establishment of a network(?) where tenants can share their stories". Hmm, this is the first many of us have heard of this network.

The only reason why they sent their stooge, Steve Mumby, was so they didn’t lose complete face. Fortunately, Labour’s face imploded on the 16th of March, when they 'found' themselves controlling the platform at what was supposed to be a “non-political” rally in Liverpool; and, furthermore, when they couldn’t be arsed turning up to the grassroots-organised Liverpool demo on the 30th for fear of being exposed as the poltiking snakes that they are, this further cemented the attitude they've taken towards tenants organising for themselves.

Grassroots bedroom tax demo - 30th March

Cllr Baldock, patronisingly, is absolutely right when she says, “into the lions den, into the angry nest”. Around 12,000 tenants’ lives are being thrown into chaos in Liverpool as a result of the bedroom tax, and Liverpool Labour Councillors cannot even be arsed, other than to save face, to turn up because it wouldn’t be “constructive”?!?

It just shows you the attitude of a cadre of representatives who have no intention of, and never had any intention of, representing tenants. The attitude of the email reads like, ‘who wants to deal…yawn…with…yawn…this? I will if…yawn…you will…just earned 3k for…yawn…sitting on a housing board…type…type…yawn…Majorca looks good this time of year’.

Do we even want them representing us? Isn’t it about time we began taking matters into our own hands? No matter who sits in these positions of authority & power, they will always betray working class people. Their interests are not the same as ours even if they have been a lifelong Everton supporter or grew up on a council estate in Halewood. This will be proven time and time again, as opportunists and careerists, some maybe with initially good intentions, get swallowed up by the State and its’ allegiance to business.

This weekend, tenants from Merseyside will be converging on Liverpool to discuss, co-ordinate, share strategies, tactics and skills in order strengthen the fight against the bedroom tax. And regular meetings continue to take place across the city, with a recent Beat the Bedroom Tax Bailiffs workshop being the highlight of the week so far.

Community resistance, without politicians, is the strongest way to combat the bedroom tax.

Thanks to JOD for transcribing the full email.