Sefton Labour join Liverpool Bedroom Tax demonstration as MP Bil

Liverpool Bedroom Tax demo organisers Debra Power and Claire Chappel from Lydiate.

 

Sefton Labour Councillors joined hundreds of people in Liverpool at the weekend to protest against the Tory-Lib Dem Bedroom Tax.

From April 1, social housing residents who are deemed to have a spare bedroom will have their housing benefit slashed by £40-£80.

The Bedroom Tax, which comes in as part of the Tory-Lib Dem Welfare Reforms, hits social housing tenants of working age who receive housing support. Those who are identified as having one spare room lose 14% of their benefits. Those with more than one lose 25% of their benefits.

Labour Councillors from Sefton joined the Liverpool protest, one of 57 demonstrations in cities throughout the country.

Sefton Council's Labour leader, Cllr Peter Dowd, was among the protesters.

Cllr Dowd said: "The Bedroom Tax is yet another unfair attack on some of the poorest, some of the most vulnerable in our society by this callous Tory-Lib Dem Government.

"People are being forced out of their own homes by this government's policies. People who are old. People who are disabled.

"While the poorest are being hit with this Bedroom Tax on April 1, on the same day 13,000 of the country's millionaires are getting a tax cut which equates to £40,000 a year.

"That shows you just what kind of government we are having to deal with.

"That's why I joined my colleagues at the demonstration to show my, and Sefton Labour's opposition to the Bedroom Tax."

Blundellsands Ward Labour Councillor Veronica Bennett was also among the demonstrators.

Cllr Bennett said: "We heard some real heart-breaking stories from speakers during the demonstration. Stories from people who have lost children and who are being told they have to pay a tax on their child's room or face eviction.

"Stories from single parents and adult disabled who are being targeted by this tax.

"Children who are deemed disabled, but not deemed 'severely' disabled are affected by this tax. As are carers, the terminally ill, battered wives and husbands.

"That can't be right.

"That's why so many people from Sefton attended the rally in Liverpool and why so many people from Sefton oppose the Bedroom Tax."

Formby's Harington Ward Labour Councillor Nina Killen also joined the demonstrators.

Cllr Killen said: "Cllr Killen said: "The bedroom tax is going to be a struggle for many people to pay. It may not be a 'tax' in the strictest sense of the word but it is a reduction in benefit at a time when all other living costs are rising as well. Council house tenants who will be hit include hardworking families, vulnerable and disabled people, parents whose children don't live with them full-time and people whose children have tragically died. In many cases these bedrooms are not 'spare' because some disabled children can't share with siblings and sometimes couples need to sleep in separate bedrooms due to ill-health.

"We hear a lot about how we need to reduce benefits to get people into work but most of the people who receive housing benefit are actually working. This targets the wrong people. Many do not have the spare money to pay the increased rent costs - how can targeting these people be considered fair when at the same time the government is giving people who earn over £150,000 a 5% tax cut?

"Are the Tory-Lib Dem Government seriously consider evicting people from their own homes? 

"People are already struggling to make ends meet. Many are making the daily choice of heating or eating. Now this government wants to make it worse. They want to take as much as £80 each month from those who can least afford it.

"They are pushing more and more people, especially children, below the poverty line.

"My Labour Colleagues on Sefton Council oppose the Bedroom Tax and it was good to see so many people from Sefton at the demo.

"David Cameron and Nick Clegg would both be wise to listen to the increasing numbers of people who can see that this benefit change is totally unreasonable."

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said the Tory-Lib Dem Government MUST listen to the thousands who took to the streets of Liverpool and across the country and scrap the Bedroom Tax.

In a statement to the public meeting held as part of the demo, Bill Esterson said: "The bedroom tax is one of many examples of hitting the poorest hardest. It will harm many families and children and will cause very real hardship to thousands of people across Merseyside. 

"The government say they want to cut the deficit but the bedroom tax is an attempt to cut spending on the backs of those most in need.

"Many disabled people, many people who care for relatives or foster children and many people who have lived in the same home for much of their life will face losing their homes or simply won’t be able to make ends meet. 

"The bedroom tax is either because the Tory-Lib Dem Government doesn’t understand what it is doing to people in social housing or it is deliberately targeting the poor at the same time as giving massive handouts to millionaires in the form of a tax cut. 

"But whether the government is incompetent, nasty or a bit of both, either way it is the poorest and those most in need of support who are being hurt as a response to a financial crisis caused by the greed and arrogance of those running the banks. 

"We need a society which is fair, in which those on low incomes are given the support they need and one in which those with the broadest shoulders bear the greatest burdens not the other way round.

"We should build the extra affordable homes we need for those people who need to move, so they can stay in the communities where they live, close to family, friends and jobs. 

"The bedroom tax will force people to move into substandard private housing often miles from their families and their work and we should reject it."

Speaking afterwards, Bill said the demonstration in Liverpool sent a direct message to the Tories and Lib Dems.

Bill said: "Today we have seen demonstration up and down the country who see the Bedroom Tax as an unfair tax on the most vulnerable.

"The Tories and Lib Dems have heard all the argument, I just hope they hear the level of opposition from the British public and axe the Bedroom Tax once and for all."