More than 60 protesters braved pouring rain to protest against the Bedroom Tax outside Croydon Town Hall today.
The protest was one of more than 50 demonstrations held concurrently across the country to oppose the measure that will mean that anyone living in a council or housing association home and deemed to have a “spare” bedroom will lose nearly £800 a year in reduced housing benefit.
From April 1, nearly 3,000 households in Croydon will be hit by the bedroom tax, making them £15.31 per week worse off. That rises to £27.33 worse off if they are deemed to have two spare bedrooms.
Around two-thirds of those affected will be disabled people, and activists were in attendance from Disabled People Against Cuts and Croydon Mental Health Forum.
The leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council, Tony Newman, condemned the Bedroom Tax as part of a campaign of vilification of the poor. He also argued that an incoming Labour government must prioritise the building of new council housing.
Croydon Council already predicts that homelessness in the borough will increase due to the attacks on welfare. Aside from the Bedroom Tax, hundreds of other families will be hit by the benefits cap, which is a Tory-led government dogmatic double whammy, is also enforced from April 1.
The Conservative-run Croydon Council has a choice not to implement the Bedroom Tax. It could reclassify the number of bedrooms in the homes affected. As government minister Steve Webb said, “The number of bedrooms within a property is a matter between the landlord and tenant.”, as Knowsley Housing Trust has done.
Campaigners have forced some marginal concessions on the Bedroom Tax, and it is important that campaigning and lobbying of MPs continues right up until implementation.
One of the organisers, Andrew Fisher, told the Croydon rally, “It is our basic humanity to oppose injustice that brought so many of us out on to the rainy streets today, but humanity won’t be enough to keep people in their homes.
“We need that humanity to be a spur to solidarity, which means standing with those facing evictions, non-violently facing down the bailiffs if necessary, and making sure our people are not kicked out of their homes because of this government’s barbarous policies.”
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