‘Bedroom tax’ protesters lobby Newham’s councillors outside Town Hall
- Credit: Archant
Campaigners marched on the Town Hall last week to urge councillors not to evict people hit by government housing cuts.
Around a dozen protesters from newly-formed No Bedroom Tax in Newham (NBTN) loudly lobbied cabinet members as they made their way to a meeting on Thursday to get them to refuse to enforce the policy.
Cllr Richard Crawford, executive member for community affairs, was targeted as he walked up the steps of the building on Barking Road, East Ham, by megaphones and chants of “can’t pay, won’t pay, no evictions”.
He turned to the assembled campaigners with his palms upturned and told them: “It’s an appalling situation we have been put into by this government.”
The spare room subsidy - or the ‘bedroom tax’ as it is sometimes known - is the coalition government’s cut to housing benefit for claimants deemed to be in over-occupied homes.
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The placard-waving protesters, organised by the Socialist Party and the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), gathered to persuade the all-Labour council to either decide not to evict over 3,100 households in the borough estimated to be affected by the benefit changes or to re-classify rooms so they do not count as bedrooms.
Among the opposition was Michael Carter, 23, who lives with his partner in a two-bedroom house in East Ham.
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Michael has lived in the area for 12 years and now he is faced with having to fund the cut to his housing benefit or move to a one-bed flat in a tower block in Canning Town.
He said: “Lots of people I know in council housing have been affected by it. We love our house and we’ve lived there a long time, we don’t want to move.
“There is a lot of anger from people who don’t really feel the council has been of any help when other councils have said they’re not evicting people and they’ve been putting it off.”
While the ‘bedroom tax’ was not on the cabinet’s agenda, Cllr Andrew Baikie, executive member of housing, said the council has been put in a “difficult position”.
He added: “We are doing all we can to help those affected by these harsh changes.
“We would welcome the support of those who challenge the ‘bedroom tax’ who perhaps, rather than criticising councils, should target their protest at the real culprits in central government.”