Anti-bedroom tax campaigners in Leeds are set to take to the streets of the city centre again on Saturday (April 5 2014) to protest against the policy a year after its introduction. A demonstration marking the introduction of the bedroom tax last year attracted over 1,000 people.
The demonstration is organised by Hands Off Our Homes (HOOH) a group of tenants and residents from across Leeds concerned with the impact of welfare reform on the right to decent housing.
Demonstrators are calling for Leeds City Council to stand by their tenants and promise there will be no evictions for those who fall into arrears due to the hated tax.
Thousands of households in Leeds, about 1,500 in South Leeds, are affected by the bedroom tax and more than half have gone into arrears. HOOH have been supporting many tenants in court who have been put under huge stress by the constant threat of eviction.
The demonstration taking place at 12 noon in front of Leeds City Art Gallery will be followed by a sleep-out which aims to highlight the threat of homelessness from welfare cuts.
John Davies, Chair of Hands Off Our Homes commented:
“The bedroom tax has pushed thousands into debt and caused huge distress but it is on its way out with mass public opposition and appeals succeeding across the country. Hands off our Homes are calling on Leeds City Council to announce a no eviction policy and stop issuing possession proceedings against those who cannot afford to pay. The bedroom tax may be a central government invention but it is the local councils that are currently trying to enforce it.
“Tenants who have been threatened with eviction have only stopped being removed from their homes by either getting a limited Discretionary Housing Payment or by agreeing to pay £3.60 a week for arrears and court costs. For many people this debt means cutting down on food and heating.”
Debbie Locke, a campaigner with the group said:
“Last year we had an amazing turnout with live music, a kids block, a rolling ‘spare’ bed and over 1000 people and we hope this will be another big demonstration.”