On a warm Saturday lunchtime on 20th April, around 1000 people marched through Leeds City Centre to protest against the coalition government’s hated Bedroom Tax. Residents were not only showing their anger at the national government for their particularly cruel and inhumane welfare “reform” but also calling on their Labour run council to take a stand against the government. Callum Stanland from the Grimsby Unite Community group reports on the latest protest against the welfare attacks.
On a warm Saturday lunchtime on 20th April, around 1000 people marched through Leeds City Centre to protest against the coalition government’s hated Bedroom Tax (or “spare room subsidy” as they call it).
The bedroom tax would lead to the poorest and most vulnerable having to pay more for their social housing if they were deemed to be under occupying. There would be a 14% reduction in housing benefit for one spare bedroom and 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.
Residents were not only showing their anger at the national government for their particularly cruel and inhumane welfare “reform” but also calling on their Labour run council to take a stand against the government.
On April 5th, Peter Gruen, Portfolio holder at Leeds City Council, announced, “Officers will be investigating the possibility of re-designating 398 three bedroom, low-rise flats to two- bedrooms; 341 five-bedroom houses, with a downstairs bedroom, to four-bedroom houses; and 126 two-bedroom multi-storey flats to one bedroom.”
This would lead to 865 properties being reclassified. However, since this announcement the council has stayed silent, with vulnerable people already paying the bedroom tax. Residents also demanded that the council went further than “investigating the possibility of re-designating homes” and pledge no evictions due to the bedroom tax, like Darlington and Islington Labour councils already have. This even makes financial sense for councils to do as it costs more to evict them than they would gain through the bedroom tax.
There were speeches from the Leeds “Hands off Our Homes” campaign and a large number of local people affected by the bedroom tax. Support was offered with lodging appeals and local meetings were arranged for coming weeks to carry on the fight against the bedroom tax. Unfortunately no Labour councillors attended and, although there was a lot of anger, nobody offered a solution other than to appeal against any decision made.
However, nobody addressed the real reasons behind the bedroom tax and the welfare reforms: the programme of austerity due to the crisis of capitalism, the solution to which is the organisation of the working class and the overthrow the rotten capitalist system by taking the heights of the economy into public ownership under democratic workers control. This is the socialist programme that the leaders of the Labour movement should be fighting for.
Currently banks and huge construction monopolies have massive wealth but are not investing because it is unprofitable to. By planning the economy this wealth could be invested in a massive council house building programme which would provide jobs for unemployed construction workers and good quality housing for all.
- Oppose all welfare cuts!
- Labour councils to lead the fight back by pledging no evictions!
- Organise mass campaigns to stop evictions and bring down the government!