VIDEO: Tenants’ group plan bedroom tax boycott as hundreds rally

Article published: Sunday, March 31st 2013

Up to 500 people rallied in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens this Saturday to protest the introduction of the government’s hated “bedroom tax”.

Bedroom tax demo Manchester 300313The so-called tax will see housing benefit slashed for social housing tenants by 15 per cent if they have one spare room and 25 per cent if they have two or more.

The rally saw around 200 people march before more gathered in the city centre square. Speakers warned that the cut, expected to hit over 12,000 people in Manchester, would cause intense hardship for people with disabilities, lone parents and those out of work.

Tria Hall, a West Gorton resident who spoke at the rally, told Mule that her Phoenix Tenants and Residents Association was planning an organised boycott of the tax.

“There are no one-bedroom houses in our area anymore because they didn’t build any to replace the ones they were knocking down”, she said. “We can’t downsize, most of us, because they were [disability] adapted flats as well and most of us who’ve had adaptations have had to build it from scratch.”

Hall, who uses a wheelchair, said the lack of smaller properties to downsize to had left her and her neighbours in an impossible position. “If they tried to downsize all of us there’s just nowhere to go so this is why we’re running a boycott of it.”

She added that deep welfare cuts had hit the disabled and unemployed hard. “Most of us in these buildings are in part time work or, like me, unemployed through illness or unemployed through just lack of work.

“I have some neighbours who have been looking for jobs for years at this point because they only get six months at a time temporary contracts. I have a neighbour who took eight months to get [Criminal Record Bureau] checked for jobs he applied for, so he lost them.

“It’s all people like that who can’t afford to pay. So if they’re taking the money off us with which we would have originally paid it I don’t know how they expect us to try. I could probably, if I went without more meals, but I only have one meal or two a day. I’m not aware of where I could cut it from.”

No support

Hall said tenants had not received much help from Manchester City Council or housing associations. “I’ve had a leaflet from the housing association asking how we intend to pay it, mentioning that there are discretionary housing payments which I know won’t cover 20 per cent of the whole lot of us.

“And that’s all we’ve had, no support otherwise yet. I don’t know if they’re planning any but I haven’t heard anything.”

Organised by Labour activists, speakers at the demo included Labour councillors, trade unionists and other campaigners – though several present criticised Labour’s own record on welfare and housing.

Michael O’Brien, an activist from the Irish Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes, a property charge in austerity-hit Ireland similar to the bedroom tax, argued that people could not depend on politicians to support them. For O’Brien, direct action was needed.

“We can’t wait for a change in government”, he said. “We cannot wait for legislative change. People are being criminalised.”

O’Brien warned that an attack on the living standards of ordinary people was not just occurring in the UK. Governments and finance ministers may bicker, he said, but “the one thing they do agree on is that working class people across Europe have to pay for a bankers’ crisis.”

Richard Goulding

Video shot and edited by Callum Plowright

More: Cuts, Manchester, Multimedia, News, Welfare


  1. Great support in Manchester. It doesn’t affect my family but as a social housing employee I am concerned about the effects this harsh tax shall have on many residents throughout the north west. It is scandalous that ordinary folk are paying for the mistakes of the bankster elite.

    Comment by Paul W on March 31, 2013 at 1:05 pm
  2. Correction needed: you’ve referred to 15 per cent reduction in housing benefit for those with one spare room, but the correct figure is 14 per cent.

    Comment by Lulu on March 31, 2013 at 1:22 pm
  3. People should be allowed one spare room,its different if one person is living in 4 or 5 add place,but people should be allowed a room for kids to return home ,people stay if needed for those who are ill or family and friends or government stripping us from company now!?had government not sold off council property years back we wouldn’t be paying now!

    Comment by aj on April 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm
  4. I know people in private housing, both as tenants and homeowners, who would love another bedroom but can’t afford one.

    Why should they pay taxes so social rents can be subsidised to give social tenants an extra bedroom, something they can’t afford for themselves?

    My 78 yr old mother has downsized to a one bedroomed bungalow for financial reasons and has paid for it herself. When I visit I sleep on a thin mattress on the living room floor. On the few occasions when my sister and her husband visit at the same time I camp in my tent in the garden.

    We make do. We don’t demand that someone else supplies us with another bedroom as some sort of right.

    Comment by pete on April 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm
  5. People who work also live in council or now housing association property, these are homes not houses, we improve them, we live and depend on our community, some of us have paid for our houses 3 times over, we may have debt, low paid jobs or be single parents, reasons why bankers won’t give us loans to buy the homes we have lived in for over 20 years. If I added up my rent my parents and grandparents then you owe me a palace Mr Cameron, and all I want is for me and my neighbours to be left in peace safe and sound in OUR HOMES

    Comment by gail frampton on April 4, 2013 at 11:48 pm

The comments are closed.