- Created: Friday, 17 January 2014 21:19
- Written by Newcastle Branch
First of all it needs to be said that we are against the bedroom tax 100% and believe it needs to be scrapped completely. The way the government and local councils have implemented the bedroom tax has been unlawful and there are multiple bases on which it can be challenged.
We have been pushing Newcastle City Council to meet with us to discuss the unlawful nature of the way they have implemented the bedroom tax. See here for reports on action we’ve taken at the Civic Centre: Newcastle residents fight back against the Bedroom Tax - 19 December 2013 and Residents hit by the bedroom tax banned from meeting with Newcastle Council’s Housing Benefit department
The three immediate demands we are currently using to fight the bedroom tax are:
1. On 6 December 2013, Newcastle council upheld an appeal and reversed a bedroom tax decision on the grounds that the person affected has joint custody of his son which means that his ‘spare’ bedroom is actually legally occupied. This shows that Newcastle Council has the power to reverse bedroom tax decisions. We demand that Newcastle Council uses its discretion in ALL relevant bedroom tax cases and does not attempt to forfeit its responsibility.
2. The 2004 Housing Act specifies that a room must have at least 70sqft of usable floor space if it is to be used as a bedroom; otherwise it may constitute a Category 1 Health and Safety Hazard. We demand that the Environmental Health department investigates ALL requests for inspection under these provisions without delay.
3. The Consequential Provision Regulations 2006 mean that anyone who has been in receipt of Housing Benefit since 1 January 1996, and has lived in the same property for this time period, is EXEMPT from the bedroom tax. We demand that Newcastle Council review EVERY SINGLE bedroom tax decision in accordance with these regulations.
EVENTS AND HOW YOU CAN HELP
This is how we are campaigning on the loopholes above:
1. PHONE CAMPAIGN: We are trying to get a meeting with the council’s Environmental Health and Housing Benefit departments to demand that Environmental Health inspect properties to assess health and safety hazards, and that the Housing Benefit department reviews all dedroom tax judgements taking this information into account.
Please help by ringing the Environmental Health department to demand that they meet with us. If you get a response from them please let us know what they say so we can publicise it.
You can ring them on: 0191 211 6114
2. We are sending delegations to councillor’s surgeries (dates below) to put pressure on them to secure this meeting and to find out what they are going to do about the unlawful implementation of the bedroom tax.
Please support the delegations, especially if they are in your ward, or if you would like support in meeting any councillors not listed then please get in touch.
The surgeries we are going to are:
Saturday 25 January, 10-11am, Blakelaw Ward
Councillor: David Stockdale (Labour)
St James’ and Basil’s Church Hall, Wingrove Road North, Fenham, Newcastle NE4 9EJ
Saturday 1 February, 10-11am, Byker Ward
Councillors: Veronica Dunn, Nick Kemp, George Allison (all Labour)
Byker Community Centre, Headlam Street, Byker, Newcastle NE6 2DX
Saturday 8 February, 10.30-11.30am, Lemington Ward
Councillor: Louise Sutcliff (Labour)
Waverley Primary School, Maple Close, Dumpling Hall Estate, Newcastle NE15 7QZ
3. We have appeal packs for anyone who wants to appeal the bedroom tax on the grounds that the council has not been out to measure room sizes or ask you what you use your ‘spare’ room for. Get in touch if you want an appeal pack or for more information on this.
4. We will be presenting our demands as a motion, which we will be asking councillors to support, and which we will be taking as a protest to the full council meeting in March where we aim to address the council and hand in our petitions.
Please come along to support the protest:
Wednesday 5 March, 6pm
Newcastle Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, NE1 8QH (2 mins from Haymarket Metro Station)
5. We are out on the streets every week speaking to people affected by the bedroom tax and involving them in the campaign. Get in touch if you want to get involved!