Former city councillor, Dave Nellist, has called for an end to Bedroom Tax evictions. The call came as the Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, was reported, by the Sunday People (01 Sept), as planning to announce later this month that a future Labour government would scrap the Tax.
Mr Nellist said:
“If the announcement takes place, and if it is honoured, that would be welcome. But if Labour now finally agree that the Bedroom Tax should not exist they should immediately take measures to shield people from its consequences.
Firstly, where councils own housing stock, or where councillors sit on housing association boards, they should immediately halt enforcement measures against tenants in arrears.
Secondly, councils should step up discretionary housing payments to all affected tenants so no one goes into arrears because of the Tax.
And Labour nationally should announce a future Labour government would reimburse any council for spending, using reserves, or borrowing to protect tenants between now and the abolition of the Tax.
Anything less than such a robust response and some might think the Labour leak is less a genuine proposal than a cynical attempt to shore up Labour’s weak opinion poll position in the run up to their Conference.”
Mr Nellist has been speaking at a number of meetings in the Midlands setting up ‘anti Bedroom Tax’ groups following the suicide in May of 53 year old grandmother, Stephanie Bottrill, of Kingstanding, Birmingham. The groups have set up networks to support people in arrears, and to organise community opposition to evictions.
Mr Nellist added:
“Whilst this Labour announcement would be welcomed, on its own it’s not enough to reverse the savage attacks which have taken place on working people in general, and on the poorest sections of society in particular.
Ed Miliband needs not only to promise to scrap the Bedroom Tax, but announce policies to end the indignity of the need for food banks, to reverse the cuts in the real value of benefits, to lift real wages and pensions, and to end the growing scandal of zero hour contracts which for many hundreds of thousands of young people are the only alternative to long-term unemployment.
It’s to tackle those wider issues, which Labour is still ignoring, that needs a new political party, one that will challenge all the pro austerity parties at the ballot box. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition intends to stand 600 candidates at next May’s elections highlighting all the attacks on working people and their families and offering a break from the austerity coalition which still unites all the big four parties.”