Over 50 people turned up in Grimsby town centre on Saturday 25th May, as yet more protests across the country are seen against the bedroom tax. In places like Grimsby where there are high levels of unemployment and poverty, the bedroom tax will hit the local area hard. The cost to the local economy, as a result of just this one cruel change in the benefits system, will run into the millions.
Over 50 people turned up in Grimsby town centre on Saturday 25th May, as yet more protests across the country are seen against the bedroom tax.
The bedroom tax will reduce the housing benefit of those deemed to have a spare bedroom by 14% if they have one spare bedroom and 25% for two or more spare rooms. Letters have already come through the letterboxes of 660,000 households nationally. In some local authorities eviction letters have already started to land.
In places like Grimsby where there are high levels of unemployment and poverty, the bedroom tax will hit the local area hard. The cost to the local economy, as a result of just this one cruel change in the benefits system, will run into the millions.
The protest was organised by Unite Community Grimsby and there were speeches from Labour councillors, trade unionists and Grimsby UK Uncut, as well as people affected by the bedroom tax.
This was the first demonstration for two years in Grimsby and was very positive, with a number of speakers stating the need for a socialist solution to the crisis and the welfare cuts, and with protesters vowing to carry on fighting until the bedroom tax is repealed. The protest also saw the first steps towards the launch of a campaign group to fight back against the austerity agenda of the government, organising more actions and leading the fight back in Grimsby, which has traditionally not been very active in organising actions like this.
There were a lot of disabled people at the protest, who have been particularly badly affected by the bedroom tax: forced to find an extra £14 a week with their benefits being reduced, as Atos tell them they are fit to work, or move out to a smaller home. Many disabled people’s homes have been specially adapted for their needs and will cost the council or housing association more to adapt a smaller home to their needs than they will get through the bedroom tax. There is also a huge shortage of one-bedroom properties for those that want to move.
At the same time, Lord Freud, the minister responsible, is living in a two million pound mansion with 8 bedrooms, most of which are not occupied, and David Cameron’s three taxpayer-funded homes are all under-occupied; the hypocrisy of the Tories blaming overcrowding and homelessness on the disabled and vulnerable having an extra room is scandalous.
There is a massive need for good quality social housing, yet there are construction workers unemployed; capitalism cannot afford to give everybody a home. The answer is to put these construction workers to work on a mass council house building programme. To pay for this the government should nationalise the banks and insurance houses and put them under democratic workers’ control and management to allow the wealth to be used for the good of everyone rather than the greed of the few rich capitalists.