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

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

How to combat the bedroom tax with a tape measure

One – but only one – of the challenges to the bedroom tax is the minimum size of your smallest bedroom.

Many of the smallest rooms in social housing are less than 70 sq/ft and thus a boxroom rather than a bedroom.

A single bedroom has to be 70 sq/ft or 6.5 sq/m to be classed as a full (1.0) bedroom.  If it is 9ft x 7ft then it is 63 sq/ft and just 0.9 of a bedroom.

The size standards are found in the 1985 Housing Act section 326 (and see here for an overview ) which ironically deal with overcrowding and set out the 70 sq/ft issue and also the fact that anything under 50 sq/ft (eg 7ft by 7ft) cannot be deemed as a bedroom at all.

If you have a room which is under these requirements then it cannot be classed as a bedroom and you can legally challenge any under-occupancy judgement that says it is a bedroom.

Again, this is only one way to potentially combat the bedroom tax: the State has a shitty habit of closing down any loopholes that spring-up in its face, as evidenced in a recent workfare ruling

We argue that it's only tenant solidarity and direct action that will see the working class get the goods. 

But, it is worth measuring up your smallest room to see if they are classed as a full bedroom or not.

If you want to read an accessible legal view of this try here - 

Thanks to @speyejoe for details.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Live bedroom tax discussion shows housing associations continue to fail tenants

A Guardian Live discussion today brought together housing association professionals (HAP’s) to discuss how to ‘manage’ the fast-approaching bedroom tax, which comes into force on the 1st of April.

There were representatives from Liverpool housing associations, including Liverpool Mutual Homes and One Vision Housing; lackeys from the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation; and benefits managers from Oxford City Council.

So, what did the HAP’s come up with? Well, it was the usual, unsurprising stultifying crap that they’ve been regurgitating in the media over the past few weeks.

HAP’s were quick to distance themselves from the government legislation in order to mitigate any rage aimed at them from tenants. Unfortunately for HAP’s, tenants have been placing housing associations firmly alongside government when it comes to who to blame for this fucking mess.

A lot of talk focused on the recent reclassification by Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) of their 3- and 2-bedroomed properties in order to lessen the impact of the bedroom tax; and a lot of talk from HAP’s in response to KHT’s reclassification acknowledging that they won’t be doing the same:

“however attempts to artificially red[es]ignate properties could undermine the viability of associations”

Angela Forshaw, Liverpool Mutual Homes

“I agree with Angela's point about the redesignation. When discussing this we also thought it would be very difficult to manage”

Katie Moore, WM Housing

It would be extremely dangerous for tenants to begin relying on the 'pondering' of housing associations (HAs) on reclassification to avoid the bedroom tax. And if the failure of the so-called ‘lobbying’ of government that HAs got up to last year is anything to go by, it would only add to the dismpowering top-down attitude that HAs have taken from day 1:

“We did our best to campaign against the 'bedroom tax' and demonstrate how this was really going to hit people. Now that it's happening we're doing whatever we can to support those affected.”

Hilary Burkitt, Affinity Sutton

Really? You did your best?

Again and again the HAPs repeated what they were doing for tenants. Sadly, this revolved around the Gov's staying and paying, moving, getting more work, etc. At no point, after it was repeatedly raised, would they agree to make a stand with tenants or defend tenants in anyway.

In the round up, all the HAPs reeled off the same mantra of how important it was to ‘stay in touch with tenants’ and how “Housing providers need to be working with their customers and customers need to be working with their housing provider.” Wtf! They even had the gall to replicate further the wait-and-see-what happens policy that the government is taking. Short shrift for those tenants about to be thrown into chaos.

Today’s discussion made it blatantly clear that housing associations continue to offer reformulated government advice that disempowers the tenant to the point of least financial impact on housing associations. Fortunately, tenants aren’t taking crap from the government and the HAs, who are both being targeted by anti-bedroom tax campaigns across the country.

HAs have failed tenants and continue to fail tenants who are furious by the business-centric approach impacting on the lives of working class people being torn apart by the bedroom tax; and their continual evasion, especially over making a stand with tenants, shows that long ago they chose which side they were on.

HAs do not know what solidarity is, they do not know what direct action is. It's up to tenants to show them.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Labour Party astroturfs the tenants revolt

As tenant resistance to the bedroom tax gains momentum, it seems the Labour Party have woken from their slumber and a cadre of members have decided to make a callout to the affected. How very kind of them.

A series of nationwide protests have been called in all the major cities to fight the bedroom tax on the 16th of March. This callout popped up on social media, instigated by Eoin Clark, founder of Labour Left.

Problem is, they’ve completely bypassed any tenant involvement by simply announcing that you should turn up to a demo. Job done, happy days.

NO! Not job done, not happy days. This callout emanates from the arse of a party who introduced size criteria, aka the bedroom tax, in 2008 and then planned to extend it to the social housing sector in 2010. To add insult to injury, these haughty plebs also supported unpaid work, workfare, manifesting itself in the current Labour policy of the ‘Real Jobs Guarantee’, which lays out a similar sanction regime to the current government.

So, when they decide to jump on the bedroom tax campaign in a blatant top down opportunist move, we suggest that they shove their callout up their ballot box.

People in Liverpool, and across the country, are organizing against the bedroom tax. To suddenly expect tenants to sign up to Labour Party diktats is fucking insulting. Rather than shout from the clouds at tenants, the Labour Party should’ve been standing in solidarity with tenants years ago. They didn’t, a stance that is regurgitated by local councillors over and over again.

Tenants have reached the point now were they are swerving the disempowering and ‘traditional’ methods of protest. And we don’t need Labour stooges calling us to action. We’ll do that ourselves.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay! Liverpool Tenants resistance to bedroom tax gathers momentum

In a packed out meeting at the Florence Institute in Dingle, Liverpool, tenants came together once again last night to send a resounding message of resistance to the bedroom tax: we can’t pay and we won’t pay!

After an introduction on the bedroom tax the floor was opened to furious tenants who collectively agreed that when housing associations come knocking for this grubby government tax: friends, neighbours, family and community will be ready to see off any attempts to pilfer the working class on their doorseteps.

Contempt for local councillors and MPs was clear: what have they done to stop this? The absence of our political ‘dignitaries’ was all the answer we needed: they’ve done nothing.

Private tenants unaffected by the bedroom tax attended the meeting to show solidarity with tenants affected by this vicious attack on working class people.

Tenants travelled from other boroughs to connect with the fight.

There is a groundswell of anger and passion building in Liverpool, as it is across the UK in cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, York, Birmingham, Bristol and London.

We are not alone in this fight. Working together, we can combat the bedroom tax!

Next meetings in Liverpool are:

Croxteth: 7pm, 12th Feb (tonight), Croxteth Sports Centre.

Demo in Bootle: 28th Feb, 11am, outside One Vision, Bootle.

Granby: 7pm, 28th Feb, The Greenhouse Project, Tibor ST (off Lodge Lane)

City centre: 8pm, 4th March, ST Brides Church, Catherine ST

Garston: 7pm, 6th March, Methodist Church Hall, Banks Rd

*Next Dingle meeting is Tues 19th, 7pm, at The Florrie on Mill St.*

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Working class resistance is forged in communities, NOT in conference suites.

Stop conferencing, stop planning conferences, stop thinking about conferences. FFS! The time for action is now, in our communities from the ground up. In 50 days the first attacks of the 2012 Welfare Reform Act come into force and none more so than the bedroom atTAXs on our homes.

To channel energy into yet another conference that, unintentionally or not, excludes the vast majority of people who are going to be thrown into chaos is counter-productive. Even anti-authoritarian groups are getting in on the conference act and they don’t even have a date for theirs yet.

The attack is already at our doorsteps. We don’t need to be fucking off to conferences to be talked at. Think they’re vital for knowledge-sharing and skill-sharing? Do that in your community, in you local community centre. Share knowledge and skills with neighbours and friends, tenants and workers in your street, on your estate, down your road —not in some plush or gloomy suite in London, Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester.

Working class resistance is forged in communities, NOT in conference suites.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Daily Express insults millions of families hit by bedroom tax

If you see this man, fuckin' punch him

Today, Express journalist and all-round shitbag, Patrick O’Flynn used Labour party ‘opposition’ to the bedroom tax as a foil to rebuke the millions of adults and children about to be thrown into chaos by the government’s back-of-an-envelope legislation.

Cognisant of a shift in public opinion, which had previously given the green light for the Tories to commence their attack on working class people, the Express and it’s chief political filthbag, O’Flynn, gave out a clarion call to suppress this growing working class camaraderie.

O’Flynn spins out the semantic trick that so many tory trolls have been using lately to pooh-pooh the bedroom tax: “it’s not a tax it’s a reduction”, they exclaim. This is because they know tax-memes spread fast and could potentially damage the government, and by extension their grotty little cut of the City pasty.

Any tax is a reduction and any reduction is a tax, whether that be a tax on the amount of space you inhabit or a reduction in the amount of income you receive. What ghouls like O’Flynn do is attempt to make a distinction between deserving and undeserving. If you’re the former, then you are a hard working, law-abiding tax-payer; if you’re the latter, then you aren’t accorded the same ‘respect’ and can be treated contemptuously. Fact is, they treat all working class people with contempt full stop.

Conservatives are desperate for the bedroom tax to be viewed as a reduction because this fits into the rhetoric of reducing the housing benefit bill —and by extension welfare, which feeds into the fallacy of austerity.

The Bedroom Tax affects nearly 1.6 million people in the UK. From the 1st of April 2013, tenants of housing associations & social landlords will be hit by a possible 25% cut in their housing benefit if they under-occupy their home. This means: 1 spare room will see a 14% reduction in housing benefit; 2 spare rooms will see a 25% reduction in housing benefit. Many tenants will be expected to uproot their families, move away from their communities, their support networks and downsize to properties that simply do not exist

When scolding tenants for occupying properties they call home, nowhere does O’Flynn mention that there is a chronic lack of 1-bedroom properties to downsize to, as admitted by the DWP, effectively stranding tenants in properties even if they did want to move.

When complaining about social sector tenants, nowhere does O’Flynn mention that the housing benefit bill will rise as a result of the bedroom tax because those forced to downsize into the private rented sector will be charged higher private sector rents. In fact, the government is paying private landlords 2.2 billion more per year than it does to the social sector.

When ignoring the chaos the bedroom tax will bring to millions of lives, nowhere does O’Flynn mention the complex fabric of needs and requirements of tenants in the social sector, preferring to lump social sector tenants altogether as the undeserving causers of the public sector deficit.

Nowhere does he mention the plights of families soon to be torn up by the bedroom tax; of those suffering a recent bereavement; of those wanting to die in their homes with dignity; of those children about to lose their room because they don’t meet the requirements of the government’s legislation.

And all to score brownie points with the cronies that bankroll his and his papers drivel?

You heartless piece of fucking scum.

West Lancashire Combats the Bedroom Tax

Momentum and anger is growing around the country over the vicious bedroom tax. The Bedroom Tax affects nearly 1.6 million people in the UK. From the 1st of April 2013, tenants of housing associations & social landlords will be hit by a possible 25% cut in their housing benefit if they under-occupy their home. This means: 1 spare room will see a 14% reduction in housing benefit; 2 spare rooms will see a 25% reduction in housing benefit. Many tenants will be expected to uproot their families, move away from their communities, their support networks and downsize to properties that simply do not exist; those who decide to stay will be constantly battling to make up the shortfall in rent. This should not be a question of move or stay; it should be about refusing to pay the tax full stop.

If you're in West Lancs there are two Axe The Bedroom Tax demonstrations in February:


Meet at 9:30am outside Nye Bevan Pool on Monday 18 February 2013. (Duration - 1 hour)



Meet at 10:00am outside West Lancashire Borough Council offices, 52 Derby Street on Monday 25th February 2013 (Duration - 1 hour)


More info to follow.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Housing Association goes on ‘don't blame us' offensive after being targeted by Combat the Bedroom Tax

financial incentives to coerce tenants to pay by direct debit

After being rattled by protests yesterday at its head office, Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) have gone on the offensive today to dissociate itself from the introduction and implementation of the bedroom tax. Chief media interface for LMH, Angela Forshaw, has been proclaiming the bedroom tax as unworkable in Liverpool —well done, it isn’t. And that goes for the rest of the country. But it’s the rhetoric on LMH's campaigning that reveals the duplicity of telling tenants one thing whilst scheming behind-closed-doors to claw their rent rate back.

'Perversely', Housing Associations (HAs) have been fucked over by the government as well as tenants, but that’s what they get for dancing with Capitalism in the pale moonlight. Rather than side with tenants in an all out attack on the bedroom tax, they decided to regurgitate, parrot-fashion, government advice and coerce tenants into coughing up the shortfall by setting up direct debits.

Here in Liverpool, LMH have been bankrolling advice sessions across the city, where they get to offer tenants “advice on fuel debt, budgeting, opening bank accounts, training and work opportunities”. To a tenant who sees HAs as trusting institutions, this may seem like a laudable initiative but behind the scenes HAs are frantically attempting to secure their rental income in the face of a potential mass non-payment campaign, all with a caring smile.

When we talk about Housing Associations being complicit in the implementation of the bedroom tax, they have to be to survive and this will be despite the chaos dealt upon tenant’s lives. It’s no coincidence that a Liverpool housing association stopped referring to itself as an ‘organisation’ and started referring to itself as a ‘business’ as the reality of welfare reform kicks in.

And it’s no coincidence that tenants are now being separated by HA’s into ‘can’t pays’ and won’t pay’s. When people say it’s ‘unfortunate that tenants are pointing the finger of blame at housing associations’ they so badly miss the point. Usually, they’ve been working in housing for so long it’s conditioned them to the point of absurdity. And accusations of falling into the government’s divide and rule strategy also misses the point.

If HAs hadn’t sided with State, Capital and self-interest in the first place we could have blown the bedroom tax out of the water. But they didn’t, they played by the rules of government and paid the price —except they aren’t paying the price, because out of self-interest they have thrown the ticking bomb at tenants who will now suffer as a consequence.

So when we now hear housing associations like LMH say “[w]e have done our best to inform them so they can be prepared” and “[o]ur job has been … to campaign against the policy”, it smacks of deceit. Moving to distance themselves further they speak of “digital inclusion and financial initiatives as well as offering employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities.” —this from a business considering unpaid labour, workfare, for tenants hit by the bedroom tax.

Behind closed doors HA’s are preparing for a wave of bedroom tax protests, to the point where (a source confirms) they are going to use scare tactics to get tenants to cough up the short fall in rent. The Liverpool Echo also revealed today that social landlords are ‘anxious’ that if the bedroom tax revolt is widespread, “the resources needed to prosecute those who refuse to pay the shortfall would be critically stretched.” HAs have chosen their side.

As tenants we cannot take yet another attack as if there is nothing we can do. We can do something: we can fight. Combat the Bedroom Tax started in Liverpool from one public meeting. Within the space of a month we have a network being set up across the city for tenants. This can be replicated across the country. The  criminalisation of the working classes should never have happened. The tide is turning and it’s time we stood up and took matters into our own hands as tenants, friends, neighbours, communities and families.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Liverpool Tenants Meetings: Housing Associations and Property Consultants Ain't Welcome

The following tenants meetings are being held in Liverpool to organise the fight against the bedroom tax:

Combat the Bedroom Tax: Dingle Tenants Meeting - 11th February

Join the fight against the Bedroom Tax. Meet at:

The Florrie
377 Mill St
L8 4RF



Combat the Bedroom Tax: Granby Tenants Meeting - 28th February

Join the fight against the Bedroom Tax. Meet at:

The Greenhouse Project
Tiber Street (off Lodge Lane)
L8 0TP


Combat the Bedroom Tax: Liverpool City Centre Tenants Meeting - 4th March

Join the fight against the Bedroom Tax. Meet at:

St Bride's Church
Percy Street
Liverpool City Centre
L8 7LT



Combat the Bedroom Tax: Garston Tenants Meeting - 6th March

Join the fight against the Bedroom Tax. Meet at:

Banks Road Methodist Church
Banks Road
L19 8HZ


Oh, and it should be obvious that landlords and property consultants ain't welcome.