City joins bedroom tax protests

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Bedroom tax protest in Liverpool. Picture by Katie Dodson

Bedroom tax protest in Liverpool. Picture by Katie Dodson

Protesters in Liverpool joined national demonstrations against the government’s new ‘bedroom tax’ today, as emotive speeches highlighted the impact of new welfare reforms.

Hundreds of people gathered in the rain around the Queen Victoria statue in Derby Square to show their displeasure with the tax, which will see benefit claims reduced on properties which are deemed to have a spare bedroom.

Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Paul Brant, took to the steps of the statue and told the gathering: “This in an individual tragedy for the households affected. What kind of society are we if we take away the support the parents need to give their children a good, decent upbringing?”

As chants from the crowd grew louder, an unknown protester carrying a baby in sling on her chest ran into the cordoned-off area shouting “same old story, same old story” at the Deputy Mayor. She then ran behind the stage and unplugged Brant’s microphone.

Parents Lindsey Wade and Barry Ismail, whose 10-year old boy Kane died at their Norris Green home last year, have been told they will be hit by the bedroom tax on their deceased son’s room, which they have preserved in his memory.

Lindsey told the demonstrators: “On June 26th 2011 my son choked in the garden. An ambulance got lost and we lost our wonderful little boy. Every night we look at that garden and see tragedy again. A letter landed on our floor, this letter said that we must now pay rent for the room our son slept in.”

Between sobs and cheers of encouragement from the crowd, Lindsey hit out at the government, saying: “I remember a Liverpool when people stuck together and supported each other. David Cameron is Robin Hood in reverse. He doesn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor; he takes everything from the poor. We feel vulnerable but we are definitely not protected.”

Bedroom tax protest in Liverpool. Picture by Katie Dodson

Bedroom tax protest in Liverpool. Picture by Katie Dodson

Banners held up at the protest included sayings such as ‘axe the tax’ and ‘save our communities’. A bed was also wheeled into the middle of the crowds with a protester wearing a mask of Chancellor George Osborne, which said: ‘Support our millionaires’.

Sharron Barrett, 55, of Fazakerley told JMU Journalism: “I’m here today to support my daughter as she’s got twins aged nine. She’s got a three-bedroom house and the council came to her yesterday and she was threatened more or less to sign saying she supports the bedroom tax or leave the property. And she signed it.

“It makes me feel really, really angry. It’s aimed at David Cameron. They want all the rich to be richer and all the poor to be poorer.”

About Katie Dodson, JMU Journalism