Thirty people attended a lobby of Swindon Council’s Cabinet on the issue of the ‘bedroom tax’ (BT). Swindon Tenants Campaign Group has written to the Council’s ruling group asking them to press for the repeal of the legislation and to make a public commitment that they will NOT evict tenants who get into difficulties as a result of the BT. Six tenants spoke in the Cabinet’s public forum which takes place before the meeting.
Lead Member responsible for Housing, Russell Holland responded. He said that if he had designed the legislation disabled people would have been excluded. It was no surpise that he said he couldn’t make a commitment NOT to evict tenants thrown into difficulties. All he would do was ask tenants to get in touch as soon as they were in difficulties with their rent.
He accepted that there are not enough smaller homes to be able to ‘downsize’ all those tenants affected. Insofar as he defended the legislation he did so without enthusiasm or conviction. He did appeal to tenants to apply for the ‘Discretionary Housing Payment’. They are quite happy to hand it out since any unused money goes back to Whitehall. The more they give out then the less rent arrears they are likely to have. So if you are one of the victims of the BT make sure you put in a claim. There is no guarantee you will get a DHP payment as there is not enough help everybody but it’s worth trying. (Download a form here: DHP )
Pretty much the whole cabinet looked very uncomfortable on hearing the dire circumstances that tenants face in trying to cover a 14% or 25% cut in their HB. However, their ‘don’t blame us, it’s the government, talk to the MP’s’ line) doesn’t go down well with tenants. For the fact is that if they don’t say publicly that the BT is wrong then they are supporting it, even with misgivings. There is nothing stopping them from calling for the repeal of the legislation other than their loyalty to their government or Party.