Tenants descended on the Senedd yesterday to launch the first of a series of lobbies in protest against the Bedroom Tax.
The group Cardiff and South Wales Against the Bedroom Tax is asking the Welsh Government to negate the effects of the tax for everyone like it has been done in Scotland.
Residents from around south Wales lobbied against what is officially called the Spare Room Subsidy, aiming to raise awareness among ministers and AMs seeking re-election in 2016 in an event named ‘We Want What the Scots Have: Negate the Bedroom Tax’.
The group of tenants is campaigning for the Welsh government to help residents out who are facing hardship because of the tax and are calling for the Welsh government to cushion the blow from Westminster cuts by introducing a much bigger pot of discretionary housing payment.
The group said they want to persuade ministers from all parties seeking re-election next May to pledge to take a closer look at the discretionary housing payment and how it is allocated.
Jamie Insole, a spokesperson for Cardiff Against the Bedroom Tax, said: “Across Wales tenants are receiving notice that their rent will rise by anything up to three and a half per cent above inflation. For the 32,000 or so left to pay the bedroom tax, this might very well come as the final straw.”
Guy Watts, a 52-year-old former Royal Navy serviceman and decorator, lives in a three-bedroom house with his partner, Rachel, and eight-year-old daughter, Daisy, in Llantwit Major.
He has been paying the Bedroom Tax for the last 18 months after he started to receive housing benefit after he developed multiple sclerosis.
He estimated 14 per cent of his benefit is taken up each week because of the Bedroom Tax – around £700 a year.
But he wants to spend that money on a functional electrical stimulation device, something he has been told is not available on the NHS. The battery-operated device would be fixed to Guy’s leg and use electrical currents to activate nerves so he could move his leg more easily.
But the device costs £1,300 a year just to hire and maintain – and Guy can’t afford it.
He said: “If I didn’t pay the Bedroom Tax, that’s what I would spend the money on.
“Years ago the Bedroom Tax wasn’t around so it wasn’t a problem.
“There aren’t the properties around for them to downsize into. They are expected to rent the room to out to a lodger.
“If I had a short-term illness and I was able to work again it wouldn’t be a problem. I think they should get rid of it altogether for people who haven’t got the way to return to work to make up the extra money.
Sue Leader, a tenant in Ely and branch officer of Unite Community, added: “The idea that the Assembly can gently implement Tory cuts has backfired miserably. To many, it appears that the AMs and councillors have simply withdrawn to their lofty towers. In Ely, Gurnos, Pwll and hundreds of other estates, there is now anger without hope.
“Since the introduction of the tax, we’ve seen a large increase in empty three-bedroom properties on the estate. We’ve lost neighbours. There’s no stability or continuity any longer. Simple working class pleasures are being taken away because people’s can’t afford them.
Gillian Jones, a member of Caerphilly Against the Bedroom Tax, said: “I’ve lived in my house in Bargoed for 26 years and the only way out for me was to move six miles up the valley away from everything I’ve known.
“The practice of seeking to squeeze the tenant as a single unfixed point must now end. Tenants will not be squeezed, nor will their communities sit by and allow them to be evicted simply because they cannot pay money that they do not have or ‘downsize’ to properties that do not exist.
“In Scotland, a social movement has forced their government to take account of the people’s will. Unsurprisingly, nobody is currently forced to pay the Bedroom Tax. With the approach of the 2016 Assembly elections, Welsh Labour is approaching a crossroads. We encourage our representatives to stand by the most vulnerable in the radical Welsh tradition. In short, tenants want what the Scots have got!”
Nina Langrish, from TPAS Cymru (Tenant Participation Advisory Service), said: “We could end up in a situation where tenants will have to find the shortfall themselves which means that people are going to get into huge arrears, abandon their properties and could be homeless.
“There are not the one and two-bedroom properties to move into.
“The whole thing is that it’s making the people who are the poorest in society pay for the mega economic problems that were caused by the wealthy and rich bankers.”
The above article is from Wales Online. Find the original here.