I have been speaking and writing about the Bedroom tax for over a year now. Even so, like other folk who are going to be affected, I still managed to hide my head in the sand as much as I could. Now right at the deadline, people are beginning to worry. WE didn’t believe that they would bring this in, it was too much even for the tories, someone would stop it.
Unfortunately in just over a month it will be here and will have a huge impact on those living in social housing. The attendance at public meetings has been the biggest seen by the left in Scotland for a long time. People are desperate for information. Such questions I have been asked are will I have to share a room with my ten year old son, what happens to the spare room I have when my kids stay with me I have shared access with him. That is why it is important to read up to reassure people.
For some on the Left this is a way of getting new recruits. We are seeing the Kevin Costner effect in Scottish Politics bottom up brassed necked, and with the underlying policy. “Book It and They Shall Come”. It worked for the founders of the Radical Independence Conference and these days, put up a few posters about the bedroom tax and people will come. For most of us though it is our duty to inform and support people to be there for those we represent. That is my goal and that of many others. I hope we can work together to support as many people as possible.
How will we win? It was concerning to hear and see in the media this week the Government and DWP attempt their old tactics of divide and conquer yet again. There new take is the need for those families who need a larger home while “hundreds of millions of tenants, costing the taxpayer up to a billion pounds. (source Victoria Derbyshire phone in Radio 5 28th of February.) dare to have an extra bedroom. As usual they lined up sympathetic stories of hardworking young families desperate for more space. I like most of us can see through their dirty tricks. It is our duty to challenge their rhetoric and explain that the lack of spending in building social housing has lead to this and we feel sympathy for these young families but what about those living in fear frightend o having to move worried about finding the oney for the rent with the fear of eviction a real one. It is growing more and more obvious that the bedroom tax is more aout destroying the tenants right to an assured tenancy in Scotland which offers so much more protection than the market force leases of the private rented market.
What can we do? My friend and I had a chat. She is fairly well off, admits to living in a house big enough for her family but she also has a passion for people and social justice. She said to me that we don’t just need to hear the stories of those affected but also the condemnation by those who believe in a kinder fairer society and are happy to pay to support others. I was glad to see Sara Jane Walls from the YES Advisory Board speaking out about the bedroom tax and benefit reform. We need people like my friend and Sara Jane tell those in power that they don’t want a return to the cramped houses of our own and our parents’ childhoods. This has been one of the welfare state’s success in eradicating illness ensuring more people live in better living conditions. Never go back to the old days let such conditions exist only in museums where we remind our children never again.
The evil empire are fighting back but we know their strategies. We need to offer people hope not treat them as potential recruits. We all need to work together to support those affected. To stop evictions and the misery it brings. I am not a poverty tourist along with many of my friends I will be affected. I look forward to continuing to be optimistic and a sharing of our resources. Please read my other posts about the bedroom tax. Let me know if I can help. How we can help each other. Always though, Up and At Them. On the side of Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance always.
Finally, after months of chemotherapy I have had a mastectomy of my right breast. The operation was five weeks after my last chemo. My body needed time to recover first. Although I had months to prepare myself for losing my breast, I still had to walk around with a stubborn tumour which refused to shrink. I couldn’t work out whether I would feel relieved or feel the loss of a part of me.
Wonderful blog from my friend Magteld about the latest stage in her battle with cancer.
I live in Paisley, on the other side of the water from Faslane. It’s a short but steep walk up to Robertson Car Park, or the car-park in the sky, as it is known to generations of Paisley Buddies and incomers like me. It is worth it for the view alone. The whole of the Clyde valley unfolds below you; the countryside full of little towns, hills and rivers. Beautiful! From here I can see right over to Helensburgh and even get a fleeting glimpse of the Naval Base at Faslane – most of it is out of view, however. After all, it is Top Secret!
Despite now living on the West Coast, I had not visited Faslane or the Peace Camp until last year, I am ashamed to admit. I had always tooted my horn in support when I passed by and followed the blockade and actions on the news. Although, of course, these are not always covered by the media. Last year, a friend, Neil, arranged a visit to the Peace Camp along with some of my comrades from Campsie Branch. It was an eye opener, and a day on which I learned so much about direct action, lock-ons and how a protest, even outside the gates of hell, can be peaceful and non violent. Why shouldn’t those who believe in Peace not show that there is a different way to behave? Seeing this, I was moved to think about my politics and how I conduct myself in the personal and the body politic.
Over the past year, I have shared at public meetings how this visit has changed me, and why I am passionate about getting rid of Trident as soon as possible - and definitely intend to do so in an independent Scotland. I will be there at the gates of the base, the morning after the YES vote, with as any people a possible giving them notice to quit immediately - not waiting a couple of years until the treaties are ratified. These weapons of mass destruction should not be tolerated so close to where people live and work. They are not safe in Coulport, Faslane, or anywhere else in the world. I look forward to the day the people of Scotland vote for an Independent Scotland, but I want change now. Just imagine how perfectly we, as a nation, can demonstrate our intent about the type of nation we are going to be if we could step into the glare of the world stage unfettered by the threat to ourselves and others of weapons of mass destruction, which need only be used once to destroy our whole world.
I’m a socialist, a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, and I believe passionately in social justice for all. After getting rid of nuclear weapons I would like to see an end to child poverty, the repeal of the anxiety-causing bedroom tax, and, instead, see a nation where we all take care of one another. A nation where we are not divided into strivers and skivers, but where all our worth is recognised. I think the people of Scotland, if asked, have great ideas about how the hundreds of millions of pounds wasted on Trident could be used for the common good; on services such as free education, and better schools and health facilities. Perhaps we should get together and write up a wish list and present it to the Westminster and Scottish governments.
I am also a carer, and I can see for myself how the cuts to local services are wreaking havoc on families’ ability to care for their loved ones. These hated and callous austerity measures mean that more and more loving families will reach breaking point and be unable to cope, with the result that more people will have to go into care. It is happening already and I fear it is just going to get worse.
Finally, I am also a mum. Like all parents, I love my children and want them to grow up in confidence and security. I was a child in the eighties, and remember the nights I spent lying awake worrying that a nuclear war was going to be unleashed. I would not wish for this sort of anxiety to cloud anyone else’s childhood. I just want my children, and yours, to grow up in the sun – not even knowing what these evil inventions are. I want them to live in a world where the billions of pounds spent on weapons is put to better use. Nuclear weapons are dangerous and unpredictable. Having them threatens all of our lives, daily. Nuclear fallout respects no borders. It will travel all over the world, wherever the wind may blow it, poisoning the atmosphere and causing unknown damage to the unborn. I can still remember the alarm bells of Hunterston B Power Station ringing when the radiation of Chernobyl, thousands of miles away, reached the west coast of Scotland.
I saw, yesterday, on the front cover of the usual suspect, The Daily Mail, that Gideon Osborne was considering selling off the government shares in RBS and sharing the money out to all UK taxpayers. It was estimated that each of us would receive £800. Imagine if we could get a share of the cost of Trident and put it all into a pot reserved for social good? As well as securing jobs for those affected by the closure of Faslane, this bounty could transform Scottish society.
The above are some of the reasons why I am a member of the Scrap Trident coalition. They are the reasons why I will be marching , along with thousands of other people, to show my opposition to Trident nuclear weapons in April. I hope that you can come too. Let’s show the Scottish Government how we feel about having nuclear weapons on our back door and let’s get rid of this anti-social neighbour once and for all. Recently, I had a great day on a stall in Paisley town centre with other Scrap Trident activists, all from different backgrounds, all working together in a common cause. We know that there are many other people who agree with us who could not not be there. We want to reach out to those people. During the event, we were all moved by a white poppy wreath left on the Cenotaph. It was a poignant reminder of all those lost in war - not just the military casualties. The diversity of backgrounds, but each with a common purpose, is reflected in the groups and causes that support the Scrap Trident coalition nationally. I have optimism that together we can see Scotland nuclear free in my lifetime, and that is why I ask you to Scrap Trident. Please go to www.ScrapTrident.org, sign the petition and get involved.
Let Scotland Lead The Way To A Nuclear Free World
Scrap Trident Hyperlink Button
Ponderings on that Steve Bell cartoon (see here). A Bitter Together Supporter using Satire – about time too!! One of the positives about us as a nation? We are self effacing and like to laugh at ourselves. It is different of course when it is someone else. Then we all gang together, hold each other’s coats and get tore in. That’s why we are angry about Steve Bell and also at the betrayal of the man we knew who satirised the Thatcher reign in Scotland wi’ nuclear subs, the poll tax as the Testing Ground. Let them have their wee chuckle and ask the why are they so worried about wee Scotland seeking Independence. Why are they having sleepless nights? We may make an X but it will be our own X and nothing we won’t learn from and grow stronger. Let’s also remind them that the vision of an Independent Scotland doesn’t belong to anyone party but is a movement of people. For a Kinder Fairer Scotland, for a socialist republic. Up and At them!
CUTS HIT FAR TOO NEAR TOO HOME.
In the eighties Norman Tebbit called for those without work to get on their bikes and look for work elsewhere. Today though the cuts are literally are much closer to home especially with the introduction of the bedroom tax due to be introduced in April 2013. Although charities and social housing providers have warned the government of the impact this is likely to have on the most vulnerable, the condems have made very few changes or exclusions. This will affect everyone of working age in or out of work who is in receipt of housing benefit.
The cold and strange mathematics of the Condems have designed a formula to decide what designates under occupancy of a person or family home. Things like remaining close to family members or childrens’ schools mean nothing to them. On a sliding scale from £11 for one “extra” bedroom social tenants will find their housing benefit reduced with them having to find the extra money themselves. For some this will mean choosing having enough to eat, heat their home or fall into housing arrears.
As with all of the policies of the condems it is the most vulnerable who will be affected. People with disabilities who require a carer to stay a few nights a week, those who require support from families and have no choice but to live in a larger home. However there are some surprises too. Foster parents will not be able to keep a spare room for children who need a placement, and it has been reported in the media that if soldiers are deployed abroad, their family may have to pay the bedroom tax when they are away. Divorced parents who share access will have to pay when their child is not living with them. The only common denominator is that it will affect those in social housing.
The advice from Lord Freud to those facing the consequences of this nasty tax is to move to a smaller home in the social or private sector. Social Housing providers have raised concerns about the lack of smaller properties available for rent and cannot guarantee an existing tenant a move to an area they wish to live in. A move to the private sector means an end to the assured tenancy all tenants in social housing are protected by and the difficulties of short term lets and finding a large deposit. Many private landlords are also reluctant to take on a tenant who is unemployed or on benefits. The irony is too a smaller home rented from a private landlord may be more expensive than a larger home rented from a social landlord costing the condemns more in housing benefit.
Many local authorities are already planning ahead and have set up Benefit Reform teams. Their remit is to speak to tenants and support them when this cuts go into action. The Chartered Institute of Housing have prepared a document, “Guidance For Social Landlords, Preparing for the Bedroom Tax and Beyond” which outlines the likely impact and asks difficult questions about rent arrears and possible eviction for those who cannot afford the additional costs. They are also concerned that along with the bedroom tax comes tenants receiving their housing benefit in a single or fortnightly payment rather than it being paid directly to the landlord. This might cause difficulties for those with learning difficulties and those not used to managing their budget in such a way.
This is no longer just theoretical. It is going to have an impact on people you know who are your neighbours and friends. It might even be you or me. Our lives can be fragile and family circumstances can change rapidly. Home should be a place of safety and security. Not a place where you worry about being able to afford and heat.The bedroom tax along with all the rest of the cuts agenda is nothing more than an attack on the poor. The condems even want to take even that away from us. I hope that as individuals and by coming together we can support those affected and make a difference in people’s lives.