THE Bolton Against Bedroom Tax campaign group has been staging a week of action to mark the first anniversary of the controversial charge which will culminate in a mass rally tomorrow.
Since Tuesday campaigners have been holding protests, including one on Bolton Town Hall steps yesterday, demonstrating against evictions and gathering support for their campaign to have the government policy scrapped.
Bolton Trade Council also organised a rally in the town centre which included a speech by Alan Wily from Scottish Bedroom Tax Campaign.
And tomorrow campaigners will join a march and rally in Manchester Cathedral Garden. A free coach is available for Bolton tenants who want to travel to Manchester.
Chris Chilton, campaign press officer for Bolton Against Bedroom Tax, said: “Tomorrow’s demonstrations will take place in major cities including London and Manchester. Opposition has been building against the campaign and the Labour Party has pledged to abolish it if it wins the next election.
“The Lib Dems disassociated themselves from it, despite being in coalition with the government that imposed it.
“Clearly any consensus that might have existed is breaking down.”
He added: “The Bedroom Tax is not only heartless, it is economic madness. Nationally, thousands of three-bedroom properties are lying empty as families refuse to move into them, costing landlords thousands in rent, since it's the landlords who ultimately receive housing benefit, not the tenant.
“In Bolton, when people wish to downsize, the smaller properties don’t exist.”
Those wishing to join the march should ring 07706 294758.
Campaigners ‘determined to see charge abolished’
PASSIONATE campaigners say they will continue to fight the government on the so-called “bedroom tax.”
The controversial penalty has seen tenants in council or social housing have money deducted from their housing benefit if they are in properties deemed too big for their needs.
Yet a year on, campaigners say they are more determined than ever to “beat the government” and see the charge abolished.
Tenants affected were invited to share their stories at the rally at the Friends Meeting House in Silverwell Street on Wednesday before series of speakers took to the floor.
Martin McCulkin told the gathering: “What we have done is tell people about the impact of the bedroom tax.
“What people didn’t know were the facts. We have gone out on the street, we have gone to railway stations and explained what it meant to people. And we have changed public opinion.”
Mr McCulkin went on to explain how the group “must stay strong” in its campaign.
He added: “We will get stronger and stronger and I feel privileged to stand among you.”
Speaking ahead of the meeting Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, vowed to continue fighting the policy in Parliament.
The Labour party has promised that if it is voted in in the next general election, it will scrap the ‘bedroom tax’.
Ms Hilling said: “It’s a cruel, unfair and costly tax which targets the vulnerable, with two thirds of those affected disabled.
“David Cameron promised the bedroom tax would save money, but figures in the Budget show the housing benefit bill is rising, not falling, with a huge £1 billion increase over the next five years.”