Liverpool residents are uniting to fight the ‘Bedroom Tax’, which is being introduced as part of the Government’s welfare reforms.
Around 80 people met in The Florrie, Dingle, to oppose changes which would affect housing benefits.
From the April 1st, benefit claimants in the UK will have their allowance reduced if they are considered to be under-occupying their home. The reform is aimed at people of working age who are deemed to have at least one spare bedroom.
Specifically, this entails a 14% cut for one spare bedroom and 25% reduction for two or more extra bedrooms. Tenants are expected to either pay the penalties, estimated by the Government at an average of £14 a week, or move into new homes.
The reforms will allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living in the house, as well as for children under 16 of the same gender. Children under ten will have to share a bedroom, regardless of their gender.
But the people of Liverpool are not giving in and resistance is growing in the city.
Campaign group Combat the Bedroom Tax is holding a series of tenant-led district meetings to organise the protest.
The meeting at the Florrie, where emotions were running high, was packed with residents from Toxteth and Dingle. Some were directly concerned by the tax, others just came in support or to find out whether the tax concerns them or not. The application of the reform is only two months away, yet the details are still unclear to many people.
Sheila Coleman encouraged people to ask their MPs about the issues: “People need to be held accountable,” she said.
Mike Cotgreave, who studied Politics at Liverpool John Moores University, told JMU Journalism: “I’m really keen on the community. We have to take matters into our own hands. We need to control our own struggles and not let anyone fight our battles on our behalf because that’s when they get lost. We have to do it ourselves.”
Another campaigner, who asked to remain anonymous, was made redundant last summer. In his situation he would need to find an extra £13 a week to cover the reduction in benefits.
He highlighted one of the loopholes in the Government’s decision: “There isn’t enough social housing, what they are doing is trying to shepherd people into private accommodation, which is more expensive. The Housing Benefit bill would go up, financially it doesn’t make sense.”
Glynn Williams, who is set to lose 25% of his benefits, asked: “What will happen if we don’t pay?” while another angry voice said: “If they come for our homes we’ll put a wall of flesh and bone around them.”
More meetings are scheduled in the coming weeks. Bootle residents will get the chance to voice their disapproval on Thursday February 28th at a demonstration at the One Vision office in Caspian Place, starting at 11:30am.