Scottish Victory Against the Bedroom Tax

The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation decided to have our National Committee on Sunday 9th February in the Glasgow Unison Offices. After the great news from Wednesday’s budget that the bedroom tax in Scotland is to be fully mitigated, Anti Bedroom Tax Campaigners have hailed this a Victory due to all of the pressure we have put on the Labour Party and the SNP forcing them to finally take action, effectively killing the bedroom tax in Scotland.
The Federation decided to continue with our NC and join the celebrations by having a Bedroom Tax Wake to rejoice in the death of the vile bedroom tax.

Over 100 people crammed into the Glasgow Unison Offices on the day, representing campaigns from all across Scotland.
Banners from all of the affiliated campaigns spread across the main wall of the room, redecorating it with a sea of anti bedroom tax slogans. A coffin, with the head of the bedroom tax monster was on display in front of all the campaigners to replicate a wake.

There were many fantastic contributions from the local campaigns which built the demands of the Federation in the coming months.

1) That all tenants get a full refund for the years 2013/14 for money paid on the bedroom tax and to cancel all arrears.
2) That tenants are automatically granted DHP by their councils; If tenants are in receipt of housing benefit, they automatically get DHP. No further means testing.
3) That all councils and housing associations stop the legal proceedings against their tenants which have run up arrears due to bedroom tax.
4) Councils take action now to remunerate those who should have been exempt from bedroom tax which emerged from the pre 1996 DWP loophole.
5) The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation is calling on all councils and social landlords to launch a campaign of awareness as to how tenants can claim the mitigation, in order to remove the confusion that exists around the Scottish government’s recent announcement.

An impromptu demonstration then followed as campaigners decided to march through the streets holding their banners high behind the effigy of the dead bedroom tax’ coffin. Chants of ‘We Axed the bedroom tax’ echoed through the streets of Glasgow regardless of the pouring rain.

Gail Morrow, Secretary of the Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation Said: ” The Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax National Committee meeting was one with a twist this time. We had our celebration for the victory gained for the people throughout Scotland who will not need to pay any bedroom tax from April 1st. Judging by the responses of our elected officials over the last month we have actually achieved the impossible. This shows us what people power can do and that standing together for what is right without backing down is the way to move forward and bring about changes for the better.

We are not finished with the bedroom tax. We are still here to see that people get what they are entitled to quickly and efficiently. We agreed when it comes to paperwork there should only be one form with simply a tick box excercise, and if you tick yes that you do get housing benefit then that should be all the information asked for when it comes to bedroom tax cases being granted full DHP. We talked about lobbies outside HA’s, councils and the February council meetings to put the onus on those people to identify and contact each bedroom tax case and set them up with DHP rather than have the tenant be responsible.

John Swinneys announcement on Wednesday was a huge victory for the hundreds of campaigners who worked tirelessly. If communities and Unions were to unite we would be an unstoppable force against this Con Dem Government and all the misery they bring with it.”

Karen Hendry, Co Vice chair of the Federation said: “A victory that they said we couldn’t manage, for months they said their hands were tied, whilst up and down the country ordinary people were saying ‘no we will not lie down to this’, and they organised, protested and stood together determined that they would fight for friends and neighbours, AND WE WON!”

After the march campaigners returned to end the meeting and celebrations in real democratic nature where we voted and agreed to-

1) Mobilise and build for the 15th March Tory Party Conference demonstration in Edinburgh, to also support the demonstration in any way we can and contribute to making it a massive protest.
2) To give complete solidarity to the 19th February Glasgow Against Atos National Demonstration and 22nd March Scotland United against Racism and Fascism demonstration.
3) To build a family fun day on 5th of April to show complete solidarity with our brothers and sisters in England and Wales who will be protesting against the vile Bedroom Tax which remains in existence there.

The National Committee noted that it was with regret that the No2bedroomtax campaign have yet to agree on uniting with us to build a massive protest against the bedroom tax on the 29th March, despite numerous calls by the Scottish Anti Bedroom Tax Federation to unite against the vile bedroom tax and march together.
We hope in the coming weeks they will look at the real goals of the anti bedroom tax movement and put their differences aside and march in unity against the bedroom tax.

The committee also thanked the unions, notably Glasgow Unison for the continued support and funding of our campaign and giving us use of their offices for our meetings. We look forward to continuing to stand shoulder to shoulder with the unions in our continued fight against the callous Tory government’s attacks on the poor and disabled in our society.

It was delightful to feel the happy atmosphere and see all the smily faces at the NC/Bedroom Tax Wake, yet understand how serious we are to see every last remnant of this heinous tax abolished and to remain vigilant to make sure no tenant is evicted from their home over bedroom tax arrears. THIS IS A HUGE VICTORY FOR OUR CAMPAIGN AND WE SHOULD SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! WELL DONE EVERYONE BUT THE FIGHT CONTINUES!