On 27th November, Calderdale Protest Against the Bedroom Tax campaign is putting a question to the Council, to find out what exactly have they done since April, when the Council made commitments to oppose the Bedroom Tax and support people suffering under it.
The campaigners are hoping for a big show at Halifax Town Hall, Crossley Street, HX1 1UJ, from 5pm. The Council meeting starts at 6pm, but the campaigners want to be there from 5pm on to ‘meet and greet’ Councillors going in.
At the Council Meeting on 24 April 2013, Calderdale Council agreed to call on Registered Social Landlords operating in Calderdale to refrain from seeking possession of properties where arrears are substantially due to tenants struggling to cope with the impact of the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
In May, Calderdale Protest Against the Bedroom Tax reminded the Council of their 24th April agreement and received a response that they felt did not live up to the Council’s commitment. Now they’re asking for a further update.
Large numbers of people in Calderdale have received their rent statements showing them to be in arrears of hundreds of pounds. Some have received letters from their landlords giving Notice of Seeking Possession informing them that if they can’t pay the tax and their arrears they will be evicted. Court hearings may start after 9th December.
Over 350 households in Calderdale are affected by Bedroom Tax. The Council has allocated £334,000 a year for this year and next year for Discretionary Housing Payments, which can help households who have to pay the Bedroom Tax. Less than £55,000 of this allocation has been spent so far.
Calderdale Protest Against the Bedroom Tax are aware that people have applied for Discretionary Housing Benefit and been turned down, some more than once. People in Calderdale who have been refused DHP have received Notices of Seeking Possession, threatening eviction if they can’t pay Bedroom Tax and pay off their accrued arrears.
Family homes are being vacated and cannot be re-let.
Families on benefit are incurring impossible levels of debt.
The Housing Benefit bill is due to rise not fall, since rents in the private sector, where tenants are being driven to move, are higher.
Housing Association revenues are falling.
Roger O’Doherty, the secretary of CABT said,
“Nothing is to be gained from forcing people from their homes. Families will break up and children’s schooling be disrupted.
The Council sits on the board of Pennine Housing and is Pennine’s principal partner on which it depends for many things including allocating land for building, administering Housing Benefit and nominating tenants. The Council has massive influence on Pennine, the largest social landlord in the area, and can use that influence to stop evictions.”
CABT are submitting a further question to the next council meeting on 27th, essentially asking what the Council has done since May. The multi-part question is:
1.Given the Council’s commitments on May 8th, and the National Labour Party’s commitment to scrap the Bedroom Tax:
- what options have been considered with Registered Providers to assist affected tenants?
- what housing advice is provided?
- what has the Council learned from monitoring Registered Providers’ possession rates and reviewing results?
2. How many Bedroom Tax related DHP applications have been received, what percentage were successful and what proportion of those affected is this?
3. How has information to tenants been updated to take account of successful appeals nationally?
CABT are asking people to attend a lobby of the Council meeting on 27th November to underscore their determination to see that the council matches fine words with fine deeds.
Calderdale Protest Against the Bedroom Tax is a part of the nationwide struggle against the Bedroom Tax. It is not affiliated with any political parties or trade unions. Their intention is to help build strong local and national campaigns to beat the Bedroom Tax, protect their homes and offer strong, sound advice to those in need.