Monday, 18 March 2013

Out in force for peaceful demo against Bedroom Tax

With Cllr Peter Smith, Sam Murphy and Lisa Nandy MP
 in Wigan Town Centre

Labour Party councillors, MPs and trade unionists in Wigan took to the streets of the town centre on Saturday, 16th March to protest about the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’.

It was one of over 50 demonstrations taking place as part of a national ‘day of action’ with similar events in nearby Ashton in Makerfield, Bolton, Manchester and Warrington.

The bedroom tax will hit over 4,700 households in the Wigan Borough who are set to lose between £14 and £25 per week. The scale of the impact of the bedroom tax across the UK which will be introduced next month is staggering;

Two thirds of the households hit are home to someone who is disabled
220,000 families with children will be hit by the tax - one third of the households hit are families with children
140,000 working households on the lowest incomes will lose out
Divorced parents whose kids come to stay are being affected. Grandparents will pay more.
The DWP admit that there are not enough smaller properties for families to move to, yet the bedroom tax will still hit households that don’t have the option to move

Outside the Gerard Centre, Ashton in Makerfield
David Cameron’s Bedroom Tax tells you all you need to know about him and his government. The government is hitting households with the bedroom tax despite admitting there aren’t enough smaller properties for tenants to move to.

Instead, the government expects families to pay extra rather than move house. This won’t solve under occupancy, but it will hit working people and some of the most vulnerable in our society. And at exactly the same time as the bedroom tax comes into effect he is giving thousands of millionaires a tax cut of £100,000 a year.

This isn’t about tough choices, it’s about the wrong choices.

Leader of Wigan Council, Cllr Peter Smith said, “The Bedroom Tax is a grossly unfair burden placed on over 4,700 Council tenants and many more in the private sector. It is designed for London’s needs so it is totally irrelevant to Wigan’s housing problems. The craziest part is that by forcing people into the more expensive private sector, it won’t save the government any money. It could only have been designed by a cabinet of millionaires living in mansions and totally out of touch with ordinary people.”

The Government have maintained that the policy will save money but cutting housing benefit to under-occupying tenants when there is no alternative accommodation will burden social landlords like Wigan & Leigh Housing with rising rent arrears and risks making people homeless. I maintain that this is wrong and risks costing the council taxpayer more. It also risks pushing people into expensive private rented accommodation, causing the housing benefit bill to rise.

Cllr Nigel Ash in Ashton in Makerfield
A leaked letter from Eric Pickles’ Private Secretary to David Cameron’s office at No 10 revealed that the government’s housing benefit reforms could see 40,000 people homeless.

Lisa Nandy MP said, “The fact that thousands of people joined peaceful demonstrations in Wigan and across the country this weekend shows just how wrong this Government has got it."

"Their announcement on armed forces and foster families unravelled within minutes as it was revealed that they aren’t bringing forward one extra penny for the victims.

“The government announced they would exempt foster carers and some armed forces families, but there will be no extra money for councils to cover the costs.

“David Cameron’s Bedroom Tax has descended into total chaos and we will not rest until Ministers think again, admit they have got this wrong and drop this hated tax for good.”

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