Out in force for ‘bedroom tax’ demo
8:59am Monday 18th March 2013 in Local
CROWDS of demonstrators made a stand against the Government’s so-called “bedroom tax” at a protest in Victoria Square.
More than 100 protesters gathered outside the town hall on Saturday to show their opposition to new occupancy penalties due to come into force on April 1.
Banners were flown, speeches were given and a petition was passed round as residents and members of Bolton Unison spoke out at the event, which was organised by Labour councillor Kate Challender.
Under the new rules, people of working age living in social or rented housing who receive housing benefit will have their payments cut by 14 per cent if they have a spare room, and by 25 per cent if they have two or more.
The Government says the plans are designed to free up social housing for bigger families and cut waiting lists. But opponents claim it will hit some of society’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
In his speech, Bolton North East MP David Crausby said: “There have been so many taxes on vulnerable people over the last year. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have absolutely no right to attack the poor and the vulnerable in this way.”
Lisa Forest, a development officer for Bolton at Home in Breightmet, said: “I am here in a professional and personal capacity because I think the bedroom tax is an abomination. It will just victimise the most vulnerable in society.”
Carlene Evans, aged 31, from Farnworth, who has cerebral palsy, said she and her husband will be affected by the bedroom tax.
She said: “I have been put into a two-bedroom property that has had adaptations based on my disability. I also have a husband who is blind but, according to this new tax, as a couple, we only need one bedroom. If we are re-housed it will cost more money to make adaptations to other properties.”
Bolton West MP Julie Hilling attended, along with Labour councillors, including council leader Cllr Cliff Morris. He said the tax was an attack on family life: “It’s great that so many people have turned up.”
The change in law will affect about 660,000 people nationally, including 3,500 in Bolton. Opponents say those affected will lose more than £2 million in total — an average of £12 per week per tenant.