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Protest Lobby as Bedroom Tax Petition Triggers Council Debate

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 11:12
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Stroud Against the Cuts and Unite Community will lobby Stroud District Council from 6pm on November 28th 2013 at Ebley Mill. At 7pm we will enter the council chamber, where the receipt of a 1200 signature petition will be acknowledged and enable an SATC member to speak on the bedroom tax, before councillors debate a motion. Contact Chris Moore 07810 732379 for more details

Please join us to show your opposition to the bedroom tax and call on Stroud District Council to commit to:

  • No evictions due to bedroom tax arrears
  • Write off existing arrears due to the bedroom tax
  • Only designate rooms larger than 70sq feet as bedrooms (as according to the 1985 Housing Act)
  • Increase the council's house building programme to meet need
  • Use its legal powers to bring empty homes into use
  • Put pressure on Housing Associations not to evict, including calling on them not to use 'Ground 8'.

Please bring placards, banners, musical instruments and/or whatever else you feel will make for a lively and colourful protest. The leaflet for the event is displayed below, followed by a press release.

PRESS RELEASE – STROUD AGAINST THE CUTS – 05/11/2013 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

BEDROOM TAX PETITION TO TRIGGER COUNCIL DEBATE

 

 

 

Contact: Chris Moore 07810 732379 from SATC, or Sue Powell 07947 632437 from Unite Community | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Summary: On Friday 8th November, Stroud Against the Cuts and Unite Community will hand in a petition to officers at Stroud District Council [1]. 1,200 Stroud residents are demanding a ‘no-evictions’ policy, adopted by councils elsewhere in the country, and for SDC to “Write off rent arrears for Bedroom Tax and top up the government’s discretionary housing payment fund”, among other demands. Collected in only a few weeks, the signatures are sufficient to give the group an opportunity to speak at the Council’s next meeting on November 28th, when they will also be lobbying the council from 6pm [2].

The reductions to Housing Benefit Entitlement, introduced in April 2013, more commonly known as the Bedroom Tax mean that social housing tenants in receipt of housing benefit payments, excluding those in receipt of a state pension, will face reductions of 14% if deemed to have one spare bedroom and 25% if deemed to have two spare bedrooms [3]. Nineteen tenancies have been already been forced to move as a result of the bedroom tax, and in August 2013 it was reported that 347 Council tenancies forced to find £9.10-£37.50 more each week in order to continue living in the properties they currently occupy. The local press has previously reported on the case of a 61 year-old disabled man, living alone in a two bedroom council apartment, who faces a £16.32 cut to his housing benefit [4]. One of the petition signatories, 18 year-old Amanda Jones from Brimscombe’s 60 year-old mother will be deemed to have a ‘spare bedroom’ and forced to pay the bedroom tax when Amanda is forced to leave her family home due to other changes in housing benefit.

Sue Powell from Unite Community said: “From talking to the public, it is clear many people are angry at the stress and anxiety being caused to some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society due to increasing rent arrears and the threat of eviction. Two-thirds of those affected are disabled. There are not enough 1 and 2-bedroom properties available for people forced to downsize. People simply cannot afford to pay their rent when their housing benefit is reduced, so people face the prospect of being forced from their homes, for the ‘crime’ of having a spare room.”

Stroud District Council has admitted there are insufficient properties for tenants affected by the bedroom tax to move to. The ‘Council New Build Programme’ report stated, ‘demand is primarily for one and two bedroom properties’. In April 2012 there were 2,703 households on the SDC’s waiting list, nearly double the 2002 number. By October 2012 there were 1,859 applicants for one bedroom social housing property and 848 applicants for two bedroom properties. [5]

 

Chris Moore from SATC added: “While SDC plans to build a total of 150 social housing units by March 2018, this will not cover the shortfall. Many people will be forced into unsuitable and/or enormously expensive temporary or private rented accommodation, and as a result the total cost of housing benefit will actually rise.[6]”

 

The UN Special Rapporteur on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, has requested: “that the so-called bedroom tax be suspended immediately and be fully re-evaluated in light of the evidence of its impacts on the right to adequate housing and general well-being of many vulnerable individuals.” [7]

 

ENDS

Click read more below for notes

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 09:08 Read more...
 

Public Meeting Wednesday 31st July, Lansdown Hall 7pm

Monday, 01 July 2013 13:47
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We are hosting a big Public Meeting to be held on Wednesday 31st July at the Lansdown Hall, Stroud, GL5 1BB (please see below picture of the leaflet - email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for printable pdfs or printed copies to distribute). We are inviting people affected by the Government’s changes to benefits introduced in April to share their experiences, learn about their rights and entitlements, and discuss how we can help each other both practically and politically.

 

Before the public meeting, all those opposed to cuts and privatisation are welcome at the next Stroud Against the Cuts organising meeting, Thursday 11th July at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud, GL5 1DF, 7pm-9pm (usually with an informal meeting afterwards). Come help us organise the Public Meeting and other future events, as well as writing leaflets and making protests happen!

 

Last Updated on Monday, 01 July 2013 13:55
 

Social Services

Saturday, 05 February 2011 16:19
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A letter to SDC from Jessica Sim on changes to Social Housing

Dear Stroud District Residents,

I recently contacted you with regard to the governments plans to end security of tenure and increase rents for social ( i.e council, sheltered housing and housing association) tenants. See attached leaflet for details.

We are now facing the issue of Stroud District Council proposing rules to photograph all tenants, at great cost, supposedly to prevent fraud.
 
So many tenants and residents from far and wide have been keen to stop these things happening in Stroud that it makes sense for us to form our own action group. 
I am writing to invite you to form this group with us. Please consider getting involved to defend our homes and neighbourhoods. We all have other commitments but some effort now can ensure that secure tenancies and affordable rents do not become history. Losing these would make life harder for all of us!

All you need to do is reply to this message saying Yes you would like to defend social housing in stroud with your name and contact details if easier than Email. Please also let me know if and when you could come to a meeting between now and mid march. At this meeting we can decide on a name and mission statement etc so please supply any ideas you have too in advance for discussion.

For an example of a successfull lobbying social housing organisation that started in this way go to www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk. There is lots of useful information here.
Those of us who can please come to the picket protest with various other groups outside the next District Council meeting - This Thursday 10th Feb from 6pm at Ebley Mill GL5 4UB. There will be also be public seats available in the chamber (of course the meeting itself must not be disturbed). Lets show the council that we'll defend our housing! If you want a lift let me know on 01453 766059   Please also keep distributing and displaying the attached leaflet and petition.

Sincerely

Jessica Sim,  R.N,  SDC Tenant and member of Stroud Against the Cuts, Vice Chair of Summer Street Community Association.
 

The government want to slash local council funding by 28% over 4 years. As Mark Hawthorne has said, ‘the government’s top priority is cutting the deficit and Gloucestershire must play its part.’ Stroud District Council is facing a 27% cut in funding. It’s the young, elderly, disabled, poor and vulnerable who will suffer the most. Instead of accepting the cuts, councillors could join the campaign and demand more funds from central government. We should not be made to pay for the bail out of the banks; the previous government could have regulated the City and taken the banking, insurance and mortgage industry into democratic public ownership for the benefit of all. Instead the banks and finance sector have returned to huge profits and been allowed to again receive massive bonuses, while we suffer.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 March 2011 15:58