Groups all over the country are sleeping out on the night of August 24th 2013, to protest at the way bedroom tax and other benefit cuts are threatening the security of people’s homes, resulting in mass homelessness.
Bedroom tax is a cut to housing benefit for council and housing association tenants who are living in houses deemed to have “spare” bedrooms, according to inflexible government rules brought in this April.
This month, the introduction of the overall benefit cap will threaten the security of many more people in Brighton & Hove, as their housing benefit will be cut, leaving them unable to pay the very high private rents in the city.
Bedroom tax is an attack on the idea of secure public housing as a resource for everyone in the community. The government wants us to think that homes are a reward for good behaviour and that people can be moved around like jigsaw pieces.
We say housing is a human right. People on benefits have real lives which should not be disrupted to suit the agenda of millionaires like George Osborne and David Cameron. They have strong local networks of support and contribute to their communities.
Successive governments have attacked our housing rights. Fair rents and housing security have been done away with, mortgage benefit slashed, housing benefits for private tenants cut and capped. Now people living in social housing are faced with the stark choice – pay up or get out.
Those having to find up to £26 per week out of their benefits to pay this unfair tax include seperated parents who share the care of children, people who need a room to store medical equipment, those whose homes have been adapted for their special needs, and people who can’t share a room with their partners because of illness or disability.
In addition the overall benefit cap will slash the amount available for housing for people living in areas with high rent levels, like Brighton & Hove.
It’s time to end state handouts for landlords and employers. The government wants us to see those on benefits as feckless and workshy. The truth is 80% of working age benefits are spent topping up low wages, and housing benefits go straight into the pockets of landlords.
We say bring back rent controls and housing security, a decent level of benefits based on need, and an end to corporate welfare.