OMG, what do they do in Russia?

Posted: March 23, 2013 by blackdaffodil in Cutswatch, Demonstrate, Rally & Occupy!
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As we stood in the snow today, holding the banner and passing out leaflets — about what the bedroom tax is, why people need to know and why we need to stop it — we did wonder how people manage activism in places where it’s really cold. Like Russia.

We definitely thought we needed to occupy more things until the summer gets here, as Spring definitely seems bent on giving us a miss, and doing things inside seems like the best ‘new’ idea anyone’s ever had. It wasn’t nearly as miserable as any of us thought, and I have proof.

March 23rd, 2013 - Lambeth SOS Stop the Bedroom Tax

Look how happy people look!

March 23rd, 2013 - Lambeth SOS Stop the Bedroom Tax

I have been wanting a raincoat like that for a very long time. I think of it as Philip Marlowe, but everyone else thought French Resistance. I guess they’re cool too (This is from a fashion site, so I’m not sure if it’s real or a film. But I like it):

I don’t think it would be a terrible thing if we were to all look like these ladies! The Lambeth Action Pensioners Group was stylish as ever as well

March 23rd, 2013 - Lambeth SOS Stop the Bedroom Tax

And of course, Dan showing his true colors

March 23rd, 2013 - Lambeth SOS Stop the Bedroom Tax

The bedroom tax is going to hit in April, and it cuts housing benefit by 14% for anyone who has an extra room. Here in Lambeth we all know that there are no empty smaller units for people to move into. The council has no plans to build more, and they are busy evicting people from the cooperative housing once known as ‘short-life’, but now in existence for decades. Those folks are supposedly getting bumped to the top of the lists.

IMAG0247After the leafletting we retired to the Albert for a short meeting about what next, it was a really nice coming together I thought, and there were a lot of us! Ellen from the Pensioners Action Group was saying how many of these cuts will affect grandparents whose children have moved out, or who have been left widowed. These spare rooms are vital to our elders, allowing them to have visits from their children, but also as so many of them take care of grandchildren. These spare rooms are vital to the ways that extended families are getting by and getting through these hard times, we need to fight for them.

Councils in Brighton and Hove have come out to publicly declare that they will not evict anyone over the bedroom tax. This is now the policy of the Scottish National Party. When the Green Party recently wrote to Lambeth’s Labour council to ask if they would follow this example and defend the community that elected them, Liz Peck replied that:

“…as a council we have a responsibility to all our tenants to collect rent and there should be no difference in how we treat arrears coming from the bedroom tax to those that accrue as a result of other Government policies. To do so would send a message to residents that they do not need to work with us to tackle the problem caused by the bedroom tax and that they can continue to under-occupy with the council meeting the shortfall.”

In short, they will implement the tax, and start evicting tenants. It is clear that we must bring pressure to bear to keep our community in their homes! We are currently confirming the time and place for the next meeting around the issue to be held in mid April. We’ll post that on the website and on facebook. The campaign is still forming as cities all over the country are protesting the tax. The action today was called by Defend Council Housing as part of the Benefit Justice Campaign, and of course was also sponsored by Lambeth SOS, Lambeth Unison, the Lambeth Pensioners Action Group, Disabled People Against Cuts and…I hope I’m not missing anyone out!

The beautiful UK Uncut has also called a day of action around the bedroom tax for the 13th of April. For more information check out their new facebook page here, and we’ll be in the thick of things, so you can email us as well!

For more info on the bedroom tax, and how it connects to all of the other cuts, pressure on job centres to cut people off the lists and everything else, there is a short and immensely powerful video from the guardian, and a few articles giving fairly clear roundups of everything that is hitting our community, one from the AntiCapitalist Initiative, another from johnnyvoid, and a third from the Guardian. That’s just a start, the volume of information is rapidly building

  1. Xanthe Whittaker says:

    Thanks for the report Ruth – I can’t help but notice that Foxtons has just opened a big, shiny office on the Brixton high street, it seems some sections of society are doing quite well out of the over-inflated housing prices in Lambeth. I also can’t help but notice the office has lots of chairs and would make quote a good meeting space…