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

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.