Sunday, 14 April 2013
17 thousand blind people at risk from bedroom tax, time to fightback!
I’m registered as blind myself and reports in the daily Mirror have shocked me. They describe that up to 17,000 blind and partially sighted people could be affected by the Tories bedroom tax a spare room subsidy in affect. A report in the Sunday People gave a taste of what this will mean: the Royal national Institute for the Blind (RNIB) “An estimated 17,000 registered blind [people] face a forced move." One blind woman explains how she will be affected: "If I had to move I'd face weeks in isolation, unable to step outside the front door because it's too dangerous. "It's a long process to learn a new area. I'd have to wait for a trained guide to teach me the roads." Funding cuts mean there is a long waiting list for trainers who can help by plotting routes from blind people's homes to shops and bus routes. This woman is contemplating absorbing the extra rent into her meagre income - adding another candidate to the queues in Foodbank Britain. But the bedroom tax can be beaten. The death of Thatcher has reminded us of the battle against the hated poll tax that saw the tax defeated by a mass movement and eventually removed Thatcher from power. While there are differences with Thatcher's poll tax, her descendents' bedroom tax is rapidly becoming a focus for workers' anger over wider austerity: council tax benefit cuts, housing benefit changes, and all the myriad forms of misery we face. All anti-cuts campaigners, trade unionists and socialists should get behind the anti-bedroom tax movement as part of the campaign to defeat austerity. The Socialist Party says: • Scrap the bedroom tax! • No evictions! Call on council and housing associations to refuse to evict all tenants that fall into rent arrears as a result of austerity cuts. Organise local campaigns to defend our homes • Stand against councillors who try to evict us. Build a new mass workers' party that draws together workers, young people and activists from workplaces and anti-cuts campaigns, to provide a fighting, political alternative to the pro-cuts parties • Cap rents and build homes. Invest in a major programme of council house building and refurbishment to provide affordable homes for all and decent jobs • End low pay! If workers are paid a genuinely living wage they would not need to claim housing benefit • Fight all the cuts. Trade unions must build for a 24-hour general strike as the next major step in the campaign against all the cuts