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.