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

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Councils declare 'no bedroom tax evictions'

Over the last few weeks there have been a handful of councils who’ve publicly announced, in one way or another, that they will not evict tenants hit by the bedroom tax.

So far (there are probably more announcements in the pipeline) Brighton & Hove City Council, led by the Green Party; Darlington Borough Council; All 9 SNP-led Scottish Councils, including Dundee; Islington; and Bristol have declared a no eviction policy.

On first glance you would think, well done. But if we look a little closer, things don’t seem what they are all cracked up to be.

Take the 9 SNP-led councils in Scotland who, this weekend, released a Bedroom Tax Declaration stating:

“We, the representatives of SNP-led local authorities, resolve that where tenants who are subject to the Bedroom Tax and are doing all they reasonably can to avoid falling into arrears, we will use all legitimate means to collect rent due, except eviction.”

The most troubling aspect of this statement is:

“we will use all legitimate means to collect rent due, except eviction.”

What does “legitimate means” mean?  It could mean that anyone hit by the bedroom tax could be faced with a court order to get them to cough up the tax or that the so-called arrears could be transferred to a debt collector. That’s ‘legitimate’, right?

And what does “doing all they reasonably can to avoid falling into arrears” mean? If you know from the offset that you can’t pay the tax and don’t pay it, is that ‘reasonable’?

And if you refuse to pay the bedroom tax, then does this make you still liable for eviction? It sounds like, if you’re good and do what your told we can protract your route to eviction, we can keep the roof over your head and we hope that you vote for us at the referendum.

The SNP declaration doesn’t sound like a no-eviction policy at all. It sounds more like political manoeuvring to capture votes.

Brighton & Hove have made a similar pledge that smacks of political posturing and no substance. The Green Party, who put forward the proposal, have been rebuffed by Brighton & Hove housing officers; and the Council exec have said that it will be looked at for “feasibility”.

That, again, is not a council turning round and, point blank, refusing to evict tenants hit by the bedroom tax. It’s a council who’ve announced a public-appeasing 'in-principle' statement.

Bristol Mayor George Ferguson has also been throwing false salvation to bedroom tax affected tenants. Mr Ferguson says,

“the council will not evict any tenants for arrears they build up due to a genuine inability to pay this new sum until the cross-party working group has had time to examine the issue”


Islington Council have added caveats to their no-eviction pledge which roughly mirrors the government’s initial advice of stay, move, lodger, job:

“If people have no option of somewhere to move to and their arrears are entirely due to the bedroom tax then we won’t evict them”.

They then go on to say that this would be at “significant cost to the council” and we would look to move persons in large homes to a one-bedroom flat. They use an example of an elderly person in a large house.

That’s not a no-eviction policy! That’s encouraging self-eviction. What if they don’t want to move and continue to rack-up ‘arrears’ they can’t afford from the offset? Are the council to pay the bedroom tax indefinitely?

Darlington Councillor Bill Dixon:

“There’s no need for any council tenant to be evicted as a result of the bedroom tax. I want people to contact the council as soon as it becomes apparent that they are affected and we will help them work out a plan to pay what they can afford.”

That’s is not a no eviction policy! “What they can afford”? No one can afford the bedroom tax, so that means they pay nothing, right?

Although these no eviction declarations and pledges have been reported as just that, they are anything but. In one-way or another, they still expose tenants to the chaos of the bedroom tax. Nowhere have these councils and councillors stated a point blank dismissal of the bedroom tax and the evictions that pursue it. In asking tenants to pay some of it, they partially validate the bedroom tax. When asking tenants to do everything they reasonably can to avoid falling into arrears, they shift the axis of burden, again, to where it never belonged…onto the tenant.

Furthermore, excluding tenants who refuse to pay the bedroom tax from a no eviction policy, as some of them infer, attempts to suffocate the possibility of working class resistance and punish the tenant who sees the absurdity of the tax and dares to fight it. A separation of those who can’t pay and those who won’t pay —the former receives a reward in the form of scraps; the latter is punished with homelessness.

What these partial no eviction pledges do is attempt to falsely scatter the impact of the bedroom tax, a sort of reformism couched in political manoeuvring and point scoring.

Piecemeal won’t get us anywhere, especially when it’s disguised as a helping hand. 

We need to take matters into our own hands and not rely on hollow pledges.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Appealing against a bedroom tax decision

If you have received a letter notifying you that you will be hit by the bedroom tax, you can appeal the decision in writing.

Each appeal lodged costs the council around £200 and forces them to open a file and spend time reviewing it.

If tenants lodge appeals en masse, we can throw a spanner in the works of the bedroom tax, making it too difficult and too expensive to roll out.

If you are holding meetings in your area already, bring copies of an appeal letter to the meetings and get anybody who hasn't already to sign them and send them off, the more people who appeal the better.

You can use the standard letter below as a template:

To whom it may concern (add council official, housing association, etc)

I received your decision letter dated (INSERT DATE) and referenced above that imposed an under occupation charge, or bedroom tax of 14% / 25% (delete as appropriate) on my existing award of Housing Benefit.

I consider this unwarranted yet in order to challenge this in the correct way and potentially by way of formal appeal I require further information to be sent to me within 7 days of this letter and the urgency of that is to ensure I have enough time to formulate any such appeal and in full knowledge of the facts of my case within the time allowed; OR in the alternative I request the deadline for any such formal appeal be moved to 21 days after I receive the request information below:

  1. A written copy of the Council’s policy and decision-making procedures in relation to referring a socially housed claimant decision to the Rent Officer Service.

  1. A full explanation of how the council decided that (INSERT ADDRESS) was determined to be a 3 bed property for the under occupation charge and this to include what involvement if any of my landlord, (INSERT LANDLORD NAME) in this process.

Please state by way of covering letter with the requested information any changed deadline date from above with regard to a formal appeal.

Yours, etc.

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.

Thanls to @speyejoe for details.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Combat the Bedroom Tax in Liverpool - Saturday 30th March

On Saturday 30th of March, Liverpool grassroots anti-bedroom tax campaigns will take to the streets of Liverpool to combat an all out attack on working class people.

We have seen that Government, whatever suit it wears, does not support working class unity and it is up to us to work together and smash this bedroom tax outright.

We are not just faced with the attack on working class people disguised as the bedroom tax: the benefit cap, personal independence payment, council tax support cut, the benefit up-rating bill will all decimate the working class.

The bedroom tax is pushing people to the edge, and there are far more cuts to hit people who are both in and out of work.

The Labour Party have used the anger of the working class for political gain. They cannot be trusted. They've even said they will continue the bedroom tax and workfare.

It is up to us, our friends, our neighbours, our communities to stand together in working class unity, without politicians or councillors, and combat this attack on working class people, on what it means to have a home and to be a human being.

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

The following groups will be taking action on the 30th of March. These are tenant-led community groups organising for themselves:

Dingle: (with Canning): 7:30pm, 19th March, Tuesday, The Florrie, Mill St.

Croxteth: 7pm, Tuesday 19th March, Croxteth Sports Centre, Altcross Rd.

Garston: 7pm, Wednesday 20th March, Methodist Church Hall, Banks Road.

Clubmoor/Norris Green: 7pm, Thursday 21st March, Broadway Pub, Newhall Lane.

Granby: 7:30pm, Thursday 21st March, The Greenhouse, Tiber Street.

Kirby: 7pm, Tuesday 19th March, Sacred Heart Club, Briery Hey Ave.

Wallasey: 7:30pm, Wednesday 27th March, Park View Social Club, Liscard Rd

There are also several other groups in Merseyside, including 2 in the Wirral and the large Stand Up in Bootle campaign.

Lets combat the bedroom tax and the rest of the attacks on our welfare on the 30th of March.

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

(details to follow)

Facebook page:
Spread this far and wide. Invite your friends, neighbours, family & community.

Grassroots campaigners challenge Labour at Liverpool bedroom tax demo

Labour and Labour Left tried to co-opt the grassroots bedroom tax campaign at a bedroom tax protest in Liverpool on the 16th of March, which was hastily changed from Labour Against the Bedroom Tax to Liverpool Against the Bedroom Tax a few weeks ago.

Absolutely no mention was made of the hard work that continues to be done by tenants in communities, such as Dingle, Grandby, Toxteth, Garston, Kirkby, Bootle, Norris Green, Croxteth, Wallasey, Birkenhead, Vauxhall, Leasowe.

Instead the organisers, who have continually tried to hide their Labour credentials, gave the platform over to  Labour councillors and Labour MPs, who used every trick in the book to distance themselves from the bedroom tax and turn the crowds anger into party publicity. One of the organisers constantly reassured everyone that this was a 'non-political' rally, whilst standing next to a cabal of Labour politicians.

Not Political?!


They also planned to bring it to social housing in 2010, but the tories pulled a fast one with the Libdems at the election

They even announced last week that they'd keep the bedroom tax!

One Labour councillor even had the cheek to say that Combat the Bedroom Tax should "start working in communities" such as "Norris Green". We have! And Tenants are! What a vile bastard, who clearly has no comprehension of what has been going on in Liverpool communities resisting the bedroom tax.

Instead, the organisers allowed the councillors to reel off stories of tenants affected by the bedroom tax, quashing any challenges that were being made by tenant campaigners in the crowd.

2 of the Labour councillors are longstanding board members of housing associations in Liverpool, Paul Brant & Louise Baldock. They've known about the bedroom tax for years, and with less than 2 weeks to go before it's implementation suddenly turn up at a demo!? The organisers actually THANKED them. These are board members who will oversee the administration of the bedroom tax and the evictions & arrears to follow! Not to mention the multi-million pound cuts they have passed!

Instead, the organisers allowed fascists to go unchallenged in the crowd, and stewards even protected them at one point.

Instead, the organisers actually tried to turn the crowd against grassroots campaigners, many of whom are tenants going to be hit by the bedroom tax.

Combat the Bedroom Tax worked hard throughout the demo to let people know about the grassroots community campaign against the bedroom tax and the myriad of meetings (see below) that people can attend.

Today was overwhelmingly a talking shop for Labour and their acolytes, apart from one moving account of a Liverpool family who will be hit by the bedroom tax. It showed the depths that they'll go to capture votes in the run-up to the 2015 election. Riding off the back of public outrage is what politicians, local or national, do best and it is clear that they've identified the bedroom tax as a potential winner for their treacherous aims. We just have to show them that it's community resistance, without politicians, that will combat the bedroom tax.

Solidarity to all those who shot Labour down —exposing them for the working class traitors they are— and to everyone involved in Combat the Bedroom Tax!

Upcoming Combat the Bedroom Tax meetings:

Dingle: (with Canning): 7:30pm, 19th March, Tuesday, The Florrie, Mill St.

Croxteth: 7pm, Tuesday 19th March, Croxteth Sports Centre, Altcross Rd.

Garston: 7pm, Wednesday 20th March, Methodist Church Hall, Banks Road.

Clubmoor/Norris Green: 7pm, Thursday 21st March, Broadway Pub, Newhall Lane.

Granby: 7:30pm, Thursday 21st March, The Greenhouse, Tiber Street.

Kirby: 7pm, Tuesday 19th March, Sacred Heart Club, Briery Hey Ave.

Wallasey: 7:30pm, Wednesday 27th March, Park View Social Club, Liscard Rd

There are also several other groups in Merseyside, including 2 in the Wirral and the large Stand Up in Bootle campaign.

A Public Assembly will be held on April 6th to bring all the various bedroom tax community groups together. Details to follow.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tenants' Revolt Combats the Bedroom Tax

This Saturday there will be protests in towns and cities across the country against the proposed bedroom tax. In Liverpool & Merseyside tenants groups have grown from the bottom up in a very short space of time, in Dingle and Bootle, Granby, Garston, Huyton, Speke, Wallasey, Birkenhead, the City Centre, Croxteth... there is a meeting tonight in Norris Green. There have already been protests at housing associations, 300 marched in Bootle, and budget cuts meetings at both Liverpool and Sefton town halls were met with disruption and sizable protests.

Its worth mentioning all this because many of the protests on Saturday have been called by those referring to themselves as the 'Labour Left'. They have NOT been involved in the grassroots campaign and many of them will have known about the bedroom tax for over a year, indeed Labour councillors sit on the boards of the housing associations. In the case of Riverside Housing a Labour councillor is the chair of the board. Not to mention they oversaw the disastrous 'Pathfinder' housing scheme that saw swathes of housing demolished, long-standing residents moved from their homes, and failed 'gentrification' empty communities.

Labour admit it would keep bedroom tax
The government is under massive pressure and have pretended to give a few concessions: for severely disabled children, for armed forces personnel who live at home but are away on duty, and to existing foster parents BUT not even future foster carers. Its obvious this is a distraction, over 1.5 million social housing tenants will still be affected.

We need to keep up the pressure and we need to keep matters in our own hands. Labour want to ride the wave of anger into office where they can take the baton from the Tories. Let's not forget Labour continued the privatisation of council housing, they opened the gates of the NHS to corporate vultures, they introduced tuition fees, they took us to war and they are doing the work of the government by implementing budget cuts (point any of this out on the facebook event and you are banned immediately).

Liverpool Bedroom Tax Protest
Sat 16th March, 1pm
Meet outside Liverpool Crown Court, James St

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Don’t be fooled by bedroom tax concessions

IDS lying, again.
So, Iain Duncan Smith has announced ‘concessions’ to the bedroom tax, which mainstream/social media have conflated into a “U-turn”. 

On closer inspection of the bedroom tax concessions, as Joe Halewood reveals, particularly on the foster carer exemption, it only “applies to existing foster carers and not the new one!!!” 

It now looks like IDS has taken £1.35m OFF foster carers in today's bedroom tax concession --see Further Update from Joe Halewood

And also the bedroom tax statement released by IDS states that “Adult children who are in the armed forces” are exempt, well their parents anyways, from the bedroom tax. Erm, does anybody know a definition for Adult children? How many 'adult children' are in the armed forces?

Although this might provide some respite for existing foster carers (but NOT new carers) and some armed forces families with “Adult children”, it hardly makes any dent on the 1.6million people to be hit by the bedroom tax in April. In fact it’s neglible: 1.6 million, less 5000 existing foster carers and a tiny proportion of armed forces personnel (lets say another 5000) = chaos for 1.59 million social housing tenants, many of whom have complex disabilities.

This minor adjustment to the bedroom tax is most likely a result of Government a) anticipating pressure from various campaign groups and legal challenges, and b) factoring-in bedroom tax concessions to the legislation to diffuse and divide any outrage building against State attacks on working class people.

It’s possible more concessions are on the way, particularly to disabled tenants, to weaken working class unity closer towards the tax’s inception. And then once the public outrage over vulnerable people is out the way, they can ramp up the scrounger rhetoric again to settle the public’s remaining concerns on the bedroom tax.

That's why it’s vitally important that we stick together and smash the bedroom tax entirely. We’ve seen in the bedroom tax concessions, today, that they are not all that they seem and any future ones will have the same DWP illusions running through them.

Let's not be fooled by lying ratbag Iain Duncan Smith or his faltering Bedroom Tax.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Immigration & Unemployment: Debunking the Myths


Migration IS killing off jobs’

160,000 Brits lose jobs to migrants’


Headlines like these appear in the tabloid newspapers about immigration and employment every other week. The problem with these headlines is they’re shot through with lies intended to boost newspaper sales by feeding off our anxieties and insecurities over work, housing, identity, etc. 

These lies are also intended to divert attention away from the actual causes of unemployment.

Contrary to what the Government and tabloids will generally have you believe, immigration has almost no effect on what’s called “‘native’s’ unemployment” (sic).

“The gap between economic analysis and public belief on the labour market impact of
immigration is particularly large.”

This is a problem. If we haven’t got time to research the facts on immigration and only rely on right-wing tabloid hacks, we forego a proper analysis of the impact of immigration on employment and housing. 

Fact is: it’s negligible.

A comprehensive 2007 OECD study could not find:

“…any permanent effect of immigration, measured as the share of immigrants in the labour force, upon natives unemployment.”

And in a 2008 study entitled Migration Myths:

“The international evidence records no real experience of migrants either ‘stealing our jobs’ or ‘forcing down our wages’”.
“The evidence is clear: there is no relationship between concentrations of WRS [Worker Registration Scheme] registrations and any increase in the claimant count.” 

Immigration and Housing

In terms of the overall proportion of new lettings, out of 170,000 new council or housing association tenants in 2006/07 in England fewer than 5% went to foreign nationals and under 1% went to east Europeans.

Asylum Seekers

"The UK receives fewer asylum applications than France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Belgium. As of January 2012, the UN estimated that the number of refugees, pending asylum cases and stateless persons made up just 0.33 per cent of the population."

United Nations

Scare stories about a new influx of migrants from Eastern Europe only serve to divide the working class, whatever their locality is. It’s time we ‘fessed up on the blame game and realized it’s the rich bosses who are the problem, not the migratory working class, displaced by capitalist conditions, looking for a better life.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

One Vision Housing Bedroom Tax Harassment Letter being sent to tenants

So, this is the bedroom tax letter that One Vision Housing is harassing tenants to sign. Pay particular attention to the declaratiion:

"I confirm that the above information has been fully explained to me and understand that I will be responsible for paying any shortfall in our rent payments.  I understand that One Vision Housing can take legal action against me if I fail to pay my rent including any shortfalls as a result of these changes"
One Vision Housing have just opened a can of worms. Do not sign.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

One Vision Housing harassing tenants into signing bedroom tax legal disclaimers

Combat the Bedroom Tax has just been informed that One Vision Housing, a housing association based in Liverpool, have begun sending out letters, “legal disclaimers”, to tenants to be signed and witnessed by a third party saying that the tenant understands they have to pay the shortfall in housing benefit and if they fall behind they’ll be subject to legal action.

The source, a legal aid, says that the letter is a legal affidavit document that can be used against tenants in a court of law.

This is a clear indication of the shameful treatment of tenants, by housing associations, as they struggle to work out how they’ll meet the bedroom tax. It fits in with the tactics Riverside Housing have been using, another housing association based in Liverpool, which involves phoning up tenants and getting them to make statements regarding whether they will be staying & paying or moving. And we've been reliably informed that Riverside housing are using this to scare tenants into paying the bedroom tax.

Tenants should not be forced into signing these documents or answering questions over the phone without the full implications of doing so from a legal source.

If you are being harassed by your housing association, just say to them you need time to consider the documents you are being asked to sign or the questions you’re being asked to answer.

In the mean time, let them know what you think about their harassment tactics on twitter @ovhousing and @riversideuk

Thanks to Stand Up In Bootle! for details

Friday, 1 March 2013

Housing Associations scabbing off tenants hit by bedroom tax

As tenants are catapulted towards the chaos of the bedroom tax, one question must be asked again and again of housing associations: Whose side are you on?

Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH), despite their ‘don’t blame us’ campaign, have made their position very clear: They don’t give a shit about tenants.

Currently LMH are scurrying around communities in Liverpool desperately trying to coerce tenants into coughing up money —they don’t have— to pay the bedroom tax. We recently crashed one of these roadshow events, where LMH stooges subjected tenants to a 2-hour damage limitation exercise composed of coercion, falsity and bribes.

LMH are desperate to get tenants to set up direct debits in order to secure the housing association's rental income that’ll be cut by the bedroom tax. One way their doing this is through something called LMH Plus. It’s basically a set of bribes in the form of vouchers, incentives to work and cash competitions —and it reveals the attitude LMH has towards its tenants: that they are not tenants, not human beings, but units of finance that the housing association must scab off in order to survive.

LMH cash bribes

Bribes are accompanied by veiled threats. We have had numerous reports from LMH tenants that they’ve been threatened with eviction whether they can’t pay or won’t pay the bedroom tax. At the LMH roadshow meeting, this week, they repeated their eviction mantra to the ‘private’ tenant meeting that trashes LMH’s stated values of being a “tenant-led” organization “providing homes for life”.

If they truly where a tenant-led organization then, long ago, they would have stood side-by-side with tenants and trashed the bedroom tax. Instead, as CEO of LMH, and all round horrible bastard, Steve Coffey re-announced in a patronizing article responding to a huge anti-bedroom tax demo on Merseyside, “[we] too have protested by lobbying”. Thanks for nuthin’. The perjurer also goes on to vomit, “protesters are preaching to the converted because we are on their side and wholeheartedly agree.”

Yet, a few streaks down the article, Coffey offers these 'comforting' words to tenants:

“Despite our opposition, we also have a duty to protect and help tenants. This means preparing them as best we can because, sadly, the policy is going to be implemented.”

So, by moving tenants further into poverty by getting them to pay the bedroom tax you’re ‘protecting them’? Fuckoffey! And yes, you’re right about one thing Coffey, the bedroom tax will be “implemented”…by LMH’s complicity and willingness to pilfer off tenants.

But, let’s leave LMH alone for a bit (but not very long) and have a look at another housing association (HAs) looking after the ‘interests’ of their tenants. Moat Homes’ new CEO also came out with treacherous drivel this week claiming the bedroom tax is the ‘right direction of travel’. In a social media conflab, Moat Homes eerily, but with slight different wording, mirror the tactics used by LMH to scab off their 896 tenants hit by the bedroom tax by offering:

No mention of standing with tenants and fighting the bedroom tax; no mention of reclassifying homes; and no mention of truly protecting tenants from eviction. In fact they infer that tenants will be evicted if they don’t engage with their offer of support and advice:

Moat Homes’ CEO, Elizabeth Austerberry, drives very closely alongside the government rhetoric being used to justify the bedroom tax and welfare reforms in general: talk of residents taking ‘personal responsibility’; less benefit dependency; the reasonableness of the bedroom tax; concerns about under-occupation; “the right thing to do”; fairness —they all sound like tory bullshit, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Austerberry is a Con’ voter.

During the LMH Welfare reform roadshow previously mentioned, Combat the Bedroom Tax intervened in LMH’s attempts to coerce tenants into paying for housing associations’ complicity in the implementation of the bedroom tax. Some difficult questions where asked, and we were branded “trouble makers” by LMH Assistant Director, Garry Croll, and asked to leave —a request we refused. They didn’t want us there because they don’t want tenants to know the side LMH has taken.

Despite HAs, such as LMH and Moat Homes, being fully aware of the increase in poverty they are causing to tenants, they insist on collecting the bedroom tax. They have decided to put that bothersome reality of the chaos being brought to people’s lives to one side. In fact, they are aiding and abetting that same chaos and make no apologies about it, preferring instead to make hollow, schizophrenic statements of ‘support’ to cover-up the fact that they have become government scabs administering an assault on the working class.