I produced the leaflet with the text below providing advice for non-payment of both the bedroom tax and new poll tax (attacks on council tax benefit) before the initial meeting of Middleton & Rochdale Against the Bedroom Tax (for details of further meetings, lobbies and demonstrations in the Greater Manchester area, go to http://www.nobedroomtax.co.uk) and handed it out in Rochdale town centre. I first handed it out outside the job centre, and after a while a G4S security guard insisted I move from the doorway, saying it was their property. Silly me, I thought it belonged to the state (i.e. you and me)! I moved a small distance away and he hassled me again asking me to go somewhere else. I said he could call the police if he wanted to – I wasn’t scared! A nicer security guard eventually recommended me moving to the shopping area, which I thought was a good idea then since it wasn’t very busy (and most of those leaving I’d leafletted on the way in).
Anyway, I thought it worthwhile to pass on advice to other campaigners and non-payers. I’ve already posted the contents of the leaflet to various places on Facebook, but I’m posting it here for the benefit of those who read my blog – or get a leaflet containing the lyrics of my song “The New Poll Tax” (see http://soundcloud.com/fruity-frank), to which I’m putting a link to this blog entry.
The contents of the leaflet (after details of the meeting) were as follows:
Can’t pay the bedroom tax – won’t move – no evictions!
The “spare room subsidy” as the Con-Dems have called the bedroom tax, introduced on 1 April, is plunging many of the poorest people in the UK into even greater poverty. One spare room means housing benefit is reduced by 14%, two or more means 25%. There simply aren’t enough one-bedroom flats for those who would choose to move. Most households affected have at least one person in work. Children whose parents have split up or who want to occasionally visit a grandparent will be hit. Disabled people are disproportionately attacked (and face additional attacks on benefits as well). The government has already backtracked a bit – we can force them to axe the tax completely with protests against it.
If you don’t pay the bedroom tax, you will eventually be taken to court. Greater Manchester Against the Bedroom Tax, which links together anti-bedroom tax campaigns in the area, will be training up McKenzie friends to provide free advice to non-payers, like we did in the anti-poll tax campaign, in time for October when most people affected will appear in court. If you are already in arrears with your rent, this could happen sooner; if so, see our website below for solicitors’ details.
If you get an eviction order, you can get legal aid, and put in a new appeal to delay the date when it would occur; if thousands do it, we can clog up the system!
We will mobilise people, through telephone trees, outside people’s houses when they are threatened with eviction, like we did successfully with the bailiff busters in the anti-poll tax campaign. A high-profile victory in an early attempt to evict someone could transform the political situation!
Most politicians have said that, in the event that people are evicted due to the bedroom tax, they will regard them as “unintentionally homeless”, and therefore have a duty to rehouse them. However, this could prove very costly (a main reason why the bedroom tax is a foolhardy exercise that could cost more to implement than it saves) so we must keep the pressure up to ensure that they stay true to their promises.
This is just an outline, written by Steve Wallis, based on a legal briefing at a Greater Manchester Against the Bedroom Tax meeting. For more advice, see our website below.
Can’t pay the “new poll tax” – won’t pay!
The bedroom tax has received much more publicity in the media than the attacks on council tax benefits (the “new poll tax”) – which mean that nearly everyone would have to pay up to 30% towards their council tax, except where councils absorb reductions in money from central government by decimating services. In Rochdale, claimants need to pay 25% (if they are in a Band A property).
Like with the bedroom tax, McKenzie friends will support you in court if you don’t pay the new poll tax (or for solicitors’ details see the website below).
If they get a court order, they can use bailiffs. Remember that they do not have the right to force their way in (except through an open window or with bedroom tax evictions) to assess goods that could be removed to pay the debt. If the bailiffs return to remove your goods, let us know and we will mobilise with telephone trees.
We defeated Thatcher’s poll tax through mass non-payment; we can do the same with these two taxes!
Disclaimer: The above does not constitute legal advice. I am not a lawyer – you may want to consult one, a Citizen’s Advice Bureau or one of the organisations I’ve posted in a comment (regarding McKenzie friends).