Download a Poster/Leaflet here march lobby leaf

March 20th: Assemble 5 p.m. at the Civic Offices, Euclid St

More than 1,100 Council tenant households in Swindon will be subject to the ‘bedroom tax’ because they have one or more so-called ‘spare’ bedrooms. It doesn’t matter if there is somebody sleeping in that bedroom because of disability or ill-health, or even a foster-child. The tenants will have to pay part of their rent regardless; 14% for one ‘spare room’, 25% for 2 or more.

The government legislation is not really directed at making available ‘spare’ rooms. Neither pensioners nor tenants who pay full rent are affected even if they have ‘spare’ rooms. Only working age tenants on Housing Benefit get caught.

The inhumanity of legislation which penalises disabled people (two thirds of households affected have at least one disabled person) has been exposed across the media. However, the impracticality of the legislation is shown by the impact it has on single parents or couples with children. Take a single parent or a couple with 2 children living in a 3 bed house. If the children (different sex) are under 10 then to avoid paying for the ‘spare’ room they will have to move to a 2 bed property. But when one child reaches 10 they will be over-crowded and qualify for a 3 bed property again. If the children are the same sex then when the first one reaches 16 they qualify for another bedroom.

If they are back in a 3 bed property, when the first child leaves home the family will have to ‘downsize’ again to a 2 bed home. Then when the other child leaves home the parent/s will have to downsize to a 1 bed property or have to pay. So they face 4 moves within a short space of time: from 3 to 2, back to 3, back to 2 and then to 1. Given the shortage of homes of the ‘right’ size’ there are unlikely to be homes available. Yet even if they have asked for a move and there is no accommodation available they will still be forced to pay.

Tenants who are on Job Seekers Allowance will be especially hard hit. They are expected to live on £71 a week. Yet from this they will have to pay anything from £11 to £20 a week towards their rent. Because Swindon Council has decided that everybody will have to pay at least 20% of their Council tax, these people will suffer a double blow. Some of them will face trying to survive on less than £50 a week. As one such tenant wrote in the Advertiser it will sometimes be a question of “deciding on eating or heating”.

On the same day that already poor people will be penalised for being on HB, the government will introduce tax cuts for those on £150,000 a year. At the same time as they are cutting uprating of benefits to 1% they have been desperately trying to stop restrictions on bankers bonuses! This shows who’s interests they serve.

In Swindon, if all the tenants subject to the ‘bedroom tax’ who need to move to a 1 bed property to avoid paying, were given priority over people on the waiting list, it would take more than 6 years to accommodate them all. In fact the ‘bedroom tax’ means that people on the waiting list will have to wait longer. The only way to really help people on the waiting list is to start building Council housing once again. The shortage can’t be dealt with by policing tenants and bedrooms, but by building new homes.

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group is calling on Swindon Council’s ruling group to abandon its support for this inhumane legislation;

  • to call for its repeal
  • and to make a commitment that nobody who is in financial difficulties as a result of the ‘bedroom tax’ will be evicted from their home.

Contact Swindon tenants Campaign Group stcg@btinternet.com or ring 07786394593

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