Birmingham Benefits Justice Campaign Bedroom Tax Demo Report and Photos

Bedroom Tax Demo April 20th (6)The campaign against the bedroom tax continued in Birmingham yesterday with a demonstration in the city centre attended by around a hundred people. Called by the Birmingham Benefits Justice Campaign, this followed action last week that saw the council chambers occupied by activists calling on Albert Bore and the Labour council to commit to no evictions over bedroom tax arrears, and the demonstration last month which saw hundreds protest in Victoria Square.

Bedroom Tax Demo April 20th (1)The demo heard from many speakers affected by the bedroom tax who are unable to pay. Julie from Ladywood spoke about how she was facing paying £30/week to keep the house she’s lived in for over 25 years. She has two spare rooms as a result of her children having grown up and left home, but there are no smaller properties for her to move to. She can’t pay the charge and doesn’t want to move away from her friends and community. She is far from alone in her situation – there are over 13,000 households in Birmingham affected by the bedroom tax, but the council has just 368 one or two bedroom properties for people to move to.

Bedroom Tax Demo April 20th (12)With thousands of people caught in the situation of being unable to pay and unable to move, the cruelty of the bedroom tax is being put into stark relief. We have heard a lot about those “spare” rooms that aren’t spare – the ones slept in by foster children (as a result of campaigning, foster parents can now keep one “spare” room, but woe betide those foster parents who take in siblings or multiple foster children, as any second or third room will still be counted as “spare” and charged for); the adapted rooms used by disabled people, the “spare” rooms that their partners, carers or siblings sleep in because the adaptations or disability mean that sharing a room is not possible or practical or the rooms kept by separated parents for their children to stay in when they are staying there. We haven’t heard so much about the people who are going to be forced to leave their communities, and what effect that will have on them personally and the community they leave behind.

Bedroom Tax Demo April 20th (11)In a report to Birmingham City Council last year, many charities warned of the disruption to community cohesion this policy and the benefit cap would cause. In the report, Castle Vale Community Regeneration Services said:

as households struggle to cover the costs of their rent this will lead to an increase in people moving out and in to the neighbourhood. The reasons behind these movements need to be managed carefully within the community as this may lead to ‘blame’ being attributed to certain local organisations, the city council or indeed those who are moving into the community– this may cause tensions due to those moving out and in to the neighbourhood

From top to bottom, the bedroom tax is a bad idea – it’s bad for the individuals concerned, it’s bad for the communities they leave behind and when evictions start happening it will be bad for the council’s finances, as they have legal requirements to rehouse anyone who is made homeless as a result of being unable to pay the tax – often in expensive emergency accommodation.

Bedroom Tax Demo April 20th (7)That is why it makes sense for the council to pledge to no evictions – it will be cheaper for them to take the loss of rental income than to go through the expense of evicting and rehousing council tenants. Making this pledge will also send signals to the social landlords like Midland Heart and Castle Vale who have spoken out about the effect of benefit cuts, that they should do the same, and stand alongside their tenants and communities in strong opposition to the bedroom tax.
Meanwhile we need to be building and organising eviction resistance networks, like the one being formed by Unite Community Union in London, which will be able to draw people out to physically prevent bailiffs from evicting those who are unable to pay this charge.

Join us in the coming weeks as we continue to build the campaign against the bedroom tax. Next weekend the Birmingham Benefits Justice Campaign will be leafleting in Ladywood, one of the most affected areas of Birmingham, meeting at 2pm by the Tesco at five ways roundabout, and more events are being planned over May.



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9 responses to “Birmingham Benefits Justice Campaign Bedroom Tax Demo Report and Photos

  1. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Birmingham Benefits Justice Campaign Bedroom Tax Demo Report and Photos

  2. Pingback: Bedroom Tax Meeting in Ladywood Tomorrow (Wednesday 1st May) | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  3. Hope you don’t mind I have just used one of your photos in my blog, but have credited you. Solidarity to you all, Elizannie

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  9. Pingback: Bedroom Tax: Three Birmingham Councillors Pledge To Stand With Constituents Against Bailiffs | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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