Stop ‘bedroom tax’ evictions

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The Bedroom Tax will lead to massive rises in rent arrears and homelessness, hitting the poorest people the hardest, Margaret Hodge, Chairwoman of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of MPs said yesterday.

The tax comes in on 1st April next week, hitting housing benefit (HB) for tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms, who will have a 14 per cent cut for those with one extra room, and 25 per cent for those with two or more.

The bedroom tax will see affected tenants lose an average of £14 a week, while the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) expects 660,000 tenants will be affected by the cut. It is certain to lead to mass evictions.

Committee chair, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, said: ‘Even small reductions in housing benefit can have a severe impact on the finances of the poorest people.’

Sarah Newton, of Dingle Combat Bedroom Tax, told News Line that the evictions would have to be stopped.

‘The first thing that springs to mind is that communities will defend themselves out of necessity. They have nowhere to downsize to.

‘Single households are being multiply hit with removals of benefits. There are people who are already affected because they are disabled who are now being affected by the bedroom tax and they can’t afford it.

‘Coupled with the absense of adequate social housing to downsize to, communities will have to defend themselves, it’s not a question of should they, it’s one of necessity. They are between a rock and a hard place.

‘The Labour Party needs to take responsibility and take action, their handling nauseates me.

‘Labour brought in a bedroom tax for private tenants and they have no plans to abolish the bedroom tax if they get back into power, so any noise they are now making against the bedroom tax is empty, absolutely empty.

‘I think there should have been general strikes for the last three years. Calling a march once a year is an empty gesture.

‘The bedroom tax is happening in the context that, for the first time in my life at the age of 42, I am comfortable in using a phrase like class war.

‘This is class war, an out and out attack on the most vulnerable in society. Services, jobs and homes are all being cut to ribbons.’

The PAC also warned that when Universal Credit comes into force, paying benefit to the claimant rather than the landlord, it will result in a sharp rise in evictions.

Hodge said: ‘Experience from the past suggests that stopping direct payments to social landlords will simply lead to an increase in arrears and evictions.’