The Scottish Socialist Party has lodged a petition demanding that UK Labour Party leader Ed Miliband takes action now to end the Bedroom Tax, rather than wait until 2015 in the hope that Labour might win the UK General Election.
The petition, in the name of veteran socialist activist Richie Venton, says 660,000 people across Britain can’t afford to wait another two-years – in the off-chance that Labour could unseat the current Tory-led UK Government at the next scheduled Westminster Election.
UK Labour only recently said it would scrap the Bedroom Tax if elected in 2015 – previously the party had indicated it would keep the legislation in relation to public sector tenants who declined to move to a smaller home – but Mr Miliband is now being challenged to act immediately.
The Bedroom Tax imposes cuts to Housing benefit where tenants are deemed to have more bedrooms in their home than they ‘need’ - one ‘extra’ bedroom sees a cut of 14%, while two ‘additional’ rooms results in benefit being slashed by 25%. Tenants are expected to make-up the shortfall in rent from any other ‘income’ they have, such as Jobseekers Allowance. However, most people affected by the Bedroom Tax are unable to make such payments, resulting in rent arrears soaring across the country.
North Ayrshire Council’s SNP administration has said no tenants will be evicted over rent arrears resulting from benefit cuts imposed by the Bedroom Tax, so long as those affected work with Council staff to address problems.
Richie Venton, who can regularly be seen manning stalls in local towns calling for an end to the Bedroom Tax, said, “This was imposed by the Westminster Coalition, which was rejected by the people of Scotland. It has caused untold damage to the lives of countless families. It has caused added poverty, stress and upheaval to the 100,000 households in Scotland and 660,000 families across the UK who are directly hammered by this grotesque theft of benefits from the poorest, most vulnerable people, many of them disabled.”
Mr Venton praised the “courageous, ferocious resistance of tenants, trade unionists, anti-bedroom tax campaigners and socialists” which, he said, had “begun to tear this measure apart at the seams.”
The SSP activist, a veteran of the 1990s campaign that defeated the Thatcher government’s Poll Tax, added, “Ed Miliband has declared that if elected in 2015, Labour would scrap the Bedroom Tax. I welcome that promise, but personally I believe he did this for two main reasons: because Labour was the only party left standing alongside the Tories failing to call for its abolition; and as a trick designed to con Scottish people to vote ‘NO’ to independence in 2014, then elect 'Red' Ed and Labour in 2015 and supposedly live happily ever after.
“But how many job losses, pay cuts, evictions, how much human suffering, even suicides, are we supposed to let happen over the next two years? No, if there's an ounce of sincerity in Ed Miliband and Labour's pledge to abolish the Bedroom Tax, they should act now.”
Mr Venton’s petition calls for the Labour leader to lodge a House of Commons Motion calling for the bedroom Tax to be scrapped, a move that could succeed if the Tories’ coalition partners, the Lib Dems, backed a decision taken at their recent UK conference, where delegates condemned the legislation and called for its end.
Richie Venton said, “People simply can't afford to wait until after 2015 - which is when Miliband has very belatedly said Labour would scrap it - so please help push them into urgent action now. It only takes 30 seconds to sign the petition. We want to put serious, mass pressure on Miliband to take action.”
The ‘End the Bedroom Tax’ petition can be signed here: