Report on the Deputation to the Housing Committee (Dave Bangs, Brighton Bedroom Tax Victims Support Group)
The Brighton Housing Committee met on 8th May to consider the Green’s very poor report on the bedroom tax…but with a positive and significant new development in the form of a surprise amendment from the Greens, with two points…
ONE that bailiffs and eviction would not be used, providing the arrears of rent were solely due to bedroom tax, that all other options for the tenant had been considered, and that there was no downsize property available for the tenant to transfer to.
TWO that tenants in arrears would not be prevented from participating in the formal transfer system, called Homemove, and bidding for available properties.
The amendment AND the substantive report were passed unanimously…that is, with the support of all the Tories and Labour.
One Green councillor afterwards invited the tenants on the delegation to the Committee to congratulate them, because Brighton was the only council with such a landmark progressive policy. But the devil is in the detail, and one tenant rebuked her for calling it a ‘no evictions’ policy… for tenants who are less than enthusiastic about moving will still be at risk of eviction, and all the other means of debt recovery short of bailiffs and eviction will be invoked.
Furthermore, the senior officers’ assessment of the situation, in which they asserted that 50% of tenants were prepared to downsize, betrayed their failure to understand the crude pressure that tenants feel they are under….and the assurances of officers that no bullying of tenants takes place lack all credibility, though the Greens were eager to embrace those assurances.
The amendment gives a very welcome boost of confidence to b/t opponents, though the Greens commitment to comply with the law vis a vis this ethically criminal tax looks set to continue to hobble their ability to show solidarity with tenant victims.