‘An attack on working class’

Wigan Bedroom Tax Campaign members protest outside Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Bedroom Tax Campaign members protest outside Wigan Town Hall

WIGAN protesters made their voices heard at the latest meeting of the full council urging members to sign their anti-bedroom tax petition.

Members of the campaign group gathered outside the entrance to the Town Hall on Wednesday before chanting from the public gallery inside the council chamber.

The group is calling on the council to agree to not evict any tenants who cannot pay their rates due to the under occupation tax - known as the bedroom tax.

Protest organiser Dave Lowe said: “If you have a spare room in your house they cut your housing benefit. We feel that this tax represents another attack by the Conservative-led coalition government against working class families and the disabled.

“We know the Labour led council here in Wigan are opposed to it but we want to hold them to account by asking them to pledge that they will not evict anybody who can’t pay their rent because of this or because they refuse to accept the cut on principle. That’s why we’re here tonight, to ask the councillors to support that view.

“It’s one thing saying they’re against it, but we want them to stand by it. We realise we’re asking them to be rebels - but if they really are against it they’ll show that by their actions.

“We want to build different anti-bedroom tax groups on every housing estate so that they can show solidarity and support each other when a resident is taken to court or the bailiffs come round, they will have people there.”

This week the Evening Post revealed council plans to demolish council houses that have become difficult to rent out because there is no demand for extra bedrooms as a result of the new tax.

Earlier this year, Wigan and Leigh Housing chief executive Ashley Crumbley said that the borough would be one of the worst affected areas in the country.

The under occupation tax cuts housing benefit payments by 14 per cent if social housing residents have one spare room and 25 per cent for two. The tax caused outrage among charities for disabled people who argued that it would punish those who required an extra room due to their disabilities.

Although the government did make concessions in March, stating that parents of armed forces personnel, foster carers and families with disabled children would be exempt.