Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Make the bedroom tax unworkable
In similar ways the bedroom tax has been the straw that broke the camels back and a little like the infamous poll tax which saw Margret Thatcher finally defeated this bedroom tax could become David Cameron and the tories very own poll tax. We need to make this tax unworkable with mass resistance and mass civil disobedience needed to defeat this vicious tax. The socialist party says : • No evictions of tenants who fall into rent arrears as a result of austerity cuts. Organise local campaigns to oppose the tax and defend our homes • Stand candidates 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 austerity • For a socialist alternative to cuts and capitalism with a democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people - not the 1% Many of those actively taking part in anti bedroom tax campaigns are mostly those not affected by this tax but want to get involved and lend solidarity all the same. More the better i say. It says everything about the major movement and politicisation that could develop that most of those participating are not affected by the bedroom tax but are acting in solidarity. The rage against the rich and their political representatives is palpable - the sheer injustice of bankers' bailouts and their bonuses, MPs' expenses, pay-day loan sharks, foodbanks, food prices, unemployment. There is also an understanding that those in power will not cease their attacks on the working class and gains of the past such as social housing unless they are forced to. 'Spare room' myth-busting! Myth #1: people have 'spare' bedrooms So-called 'spare' rooms aren't spare at all. The government's criteria mean children and young people are forced to share bedrooms with siblings - up to 16 if they're the same sex. They don't take into account people's disabilities which might mean they occasionally need someone to stay over to help them or to sleep separately from their partner. And if parents are separated, only one is entitled to have a room for their child. Myth #2: the bedroom tax is going to 'encourage people into work' It's hard to encourage people into jobs that don't exist. In some areas there are up to 20 jobseekers for every vacancy. And the government continues to cut more jobs from the public sector. Figures have shown all the schemes they've tried, including their heralded Work Programme, have failed to increase the numbers getting jobs. Besides, many of those affected by the bedroom tax are already in work - 90% of new housing benefit claimants from 2010-2012 have a job but are so poorly paid they are still entitled to support with housing costs - a bailout for stingy, low-paying bosses. Myth #3: the bedroom tax will result in a reduced housing benefit bill The housing benefit bill is so big because of high rents - mainly in the private sector but now social landlords can charge 80% of the market rate too. Private sector rents have increased by 86% in 40 years. The best way to reduce it is to introduce a cap on rents. People have been forced to move to urban areas to look for work, increasing the need for affordable housing. But the amount of social housing being built has fallen at the same time as the existing stock has been sold off. What the government really wants to do is attack the welfare state in every way possible and to force working and middle class people to pay for the bankers' crisis. Myth #4: it's only fair to create parity with the private sector The reduction in housing benefit for a spare room in the private sector hasn't always existed either. And the real problem is that there isn't enough decent housing, and virtually none that is really affordable. People being hit by the bedroom tax have nowhere to move to because of the massive shortage of social housing - mainly as a result of decades of successive governments continuing the sell-off of council housing. Myth #5: the £500 benefit cap is only bringing benefits in line with average wages This figure doesn't include benefits that people in work have to claim, including child benefit and working tax credits. That so many people earn less than £500 is a disgrace, best tackled by increasing the minimum wage, not bringing benefits even further into poverty levels. Those who are fighting this savage attack should stand in elections and join other anti-cuts campaigners in building a new mass party, based on ordinary working class people, to put an alternative to austerity on the agenda.