The campaign group Hands Off Our Homes have called a public meeting in Middleton to galvinise opposition to the Bedroom Tax.
The Bedroom Tax, officially called the “Under-occupation Penalty”, is a reduction to Housing Benefit for people deemed to have more bedrooms than they need. It is part of a raft of changes to the benefit system introduced by the government that take effect in April this year.
Middleton Park ward is one of the most affected in the city with 600 households facing a cut in their benefit.
A strict formula is used that allocates bedrooms for adults and children depending on their age and gender. Benefit will be cut by 14% for one extra bedroom or 25% for two. The Government say they want people to move to “appropriate” sized property, or pay to stay where they are.
Hands Off Our Homes points out that for most people it is impossible to move due to the shortage of council and housing association homes. The rules also penalise disabled people and separated parents who need bedrooms for their children to maintain access agreements, as Guy from the campaign explained:
“A huge amount of people either cannot move or moving is very impractical, further those that can move are likely to be moved away from their community and into cramped accommodation. Those that can’t move or refuse to move are likely to run into arrears and Leeds City Council has little idea how to deal it this. We are calling on Leeds City Council and other landlords to refuse to evict those that run into arrears due to the bedroom tax (which also happens to be the cheaper option after legal costs and homelessness provision) and instead focus its efforts on opposing this centrally imposed policy.
“Our ultimate message to those affected is not to panic, don’t pay what you can’t afford. Don’t run into debt. Stay put, eviction is difficult and we can protect each other as we did during rent strikes or the poll tax.”
The meeting takes place on Thursday 28th February at 7:30pm at St Cross Church on Middleton Park Avenue.