Guest blog from Paula, disability rights campaigner

Posted on Sat 7th Jun 2014, 6:00pm
This is a guest blog from Paula, a disability rights campaigner and DPAC activist. Join Paula on June 14th to resist the Bedroom Tax and other government attacks on the right to a home.

On 1st April 2013, 670,000 people in the UK were informed that their housing benefit was going to be cut by £14 a week if you had a spare bedroom in your property or by £22 a week if you had more than one spare bedroom. The Government call this policy the “Spare room subsidy”, we as campaigners call it the Bedroom Tax.

450,000 people affected by the Bedroom Tax are disabled people, 60-70 per cent of households in the UK have a disabled person living in it. A year on from the introduction from the bedroom tax, and we are seeing that 9 out of 10 disabled people have cut back on eating to pay the bedroom tax, 4 out of 10 disabled people have cut back on mobility care support, and 37 per cent of people have had to cut back on medicines needed to treat their various illnesses and impairments to pay the bedroom tax to keep a roof over their head.

We are seeing councils up and down the country take into account a disabled person’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) when a claim for discretionary housing payment is applied (DHP) despite this benefit not being means tested. This benefit is to meet a disabled person’s care and mobility needs. 3 out of 10 disabled people living in housing adapted to meet their needs have been denied DHPS’ compared to non disabled people, a blatant case of discrimination by the councils themselves.

Disabled people need a spare room because of the equipment they may have to store for their condition, i.e., a wheelchair, or specialist machinery like dialysis equipment for example, or if a partner, may need a spare bedroom because the person with an impairment is sleeping in a hospital bed, unable to sleep with their partner, and their partner needing that spare bed in order for them to sleep so they can continue to care for their loved one at home.

This policy is causing great harm to many, we have seen people like Stephanie Botteril take her own life as she worried how to pay the £20 a week to keep her home, money she simply did not have, people with mental health impairments sectioned when the bailiffs have made an attempt to enter their property as the claimant has been served with an eviction notice, and it is important to stress, that in the last 12 months over 15 per cent of claimants affected by the bedroom tax are facing eviction causing a great deal of distress and uncertainty for many.

It’s important that we support the campaign to get the bedroom tax abolished, cap rents and build more social housing, housing is a human right, and should be available to all. Help us campaign against this draconian unjust policy, help stop the bedroom tax!

Join the #VodaHome actions on June 14th - tell Vodafone to pay their tax and the government to stop their cuts to housing. Find your local action here, or organise your own.

Guest blog from Val from Grimsby UK Uncut

Posted on Sat 7th Jun 2014, 4:00pm
This is a guest blog from Val from Grimsby UK Uncut, telling us why she's taking action on June 14th, and why you should to.

I am angry that while all the political parties are trying to convince us that austerity measures are necessary; that cuts to our public services and our benefits system have to be made, that we have to tax the bedrooms of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable, the government is giving away billions to rich companies and their shareholders by agreeing that they don’t have to pay their taxes. That’s our money.

This means real people are plunged into poverty. Any one of us can lose our jobs and be at the mercy of the benefits system. It’s outrageous that people in the sixth or seventh richest economy in the world are homeless, starving and lives are being put at risk and all to funnel more money into the bulging pockets of the world’s richest.

Estimates are that the avoided, evaded and uncollected taxes amount to enough to wipe out the deficit. No cuts necessary.

This is not just about telling Vodafone and those other companies that are leeching this country’s wealth; it’s also about telling the government that they’ve got their priorities wrong.

Taking direct action is the only way to get attention and get our voices heard. But just because something is serious that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Roy is being a bit mysterious about what he’s planning but from the hints he’s dropped I’m sure we’ll be making our point with humour. We’re meeting at 3pm at Freshney Place in Grimsby town centre. Find Grimsby UK Uncut on Facebook or the website for updates.

Join the #VodaHome action on June 14th - tell Vodafone to pay their tax and tell the government to use that money to stop cuts to housing. Find your local action here, or organise one yourself (here's a step-by-step guide).

Guest blog from Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

Posted on Fri 6th Jun 2014, 6:30pm
This is a guest blog from France O'Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Join the #VodaHome day of action on June 14th.

Access to decent housing at an affordable price should be a basic right. Like food and drink, shelter is a necessity, yet for many of us this need is only partly met.

Far too many live in overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation.
The waiting list for social housing is so long that it never seems to move. House prices have risen 8 per cent in the past year alone, which is great for sellers and construction companies, but leaves buyers scrambling to try and get on the property ladder . And despite talk of housing bubbles, the number of home owners has fallen by 400,000 from its pre-recession peak.

Lack of sufficient good quality housing at a price that can be afforded hits people's life chances at every stage. Damp housing can put your health at risk and an overcrowded home is very likely to undermine your education. Lack of affordable alternatives also leaves people locked into areas where there are few job opportunities, entrenching low wages and unemployment.

Good housing is not just about roofs over heads, it underpins sustainable economic growth.

Once political parties competed on who could build the most homes, but in recent decades construction dropped off the political agenda. House price inflation may be bad for the economy, but makes owners feel better off. Meanwhile everyone else suffered rapidly rising rents and unaffordable house prices, overcrowding and even homelessness.

Private landlords have rushed to fill the gap, making buy-to-let a big business, but rents are at a record high and tenancy agreements offer little security. Landlords need to be better regulated.

The waiting list for social housing stands at 1.6 million, yet only 23,000 social homes were built last year.

The Coalition is entirely focused on reviving the property market. Help to Buy is better called Help to Sell. It has ignored the need for social housing.

This is why the TUC wants to see a crash programme to build one million affordable and council houses. That is why we need to end tax dodging by the super-rich and big business - not just to fund proper services and decent welfare but to build the homes that Britain needs.

Thanks Francis! Let's take action to stop the tax dodging - starting with Vodafone. Join your nearest #VodaHome action on June 14th, or organise your own with this step-by-step guide.

See you on the streets!
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