There will of course be many ways and means identified in coming weeks as to how to challenge this discriminatory CUT to what is in the vast majority of cases earned benefit, but I couldn't help but think that too many people went away from the protest or where not there but sitting at home still in real fear of building up spiralling arrears that they could not pay and also living under the shadow of possible eviction from their home.
So for their sakes we all need to act NOW not just by protesting but by buying time, and to clog up the system and to begin the fightback.
People who know me appreciate that I am a dedicated advocate of direct action when the circumstances warrant it and this is such a circumstance. I will have no qualms in joining others to prevent evictions forced on tenants through arrears built up by bedroom tax where needed, but we also need to fight over zealous bureaucracy with our own version of political red tape.
To be clear:
The Conservatives on Northampton Borough Council have made it very clear that they will implement this iniquitous tax on behalf of the Government.
The Labour Party on Northampton Borough Council have to date failed to use the Council chamber to force a motion condemning the tax and on non eviction for Council House tenants affected.
The Liberal Party on Northampton Borough Council whilst guilty by association with their Tory masters at Westminster for its introduction are now simply sitting on the fence waiting to see which way the wind blows and trying to work out if any action by them will win votes.
But like my Green Party colleagues in Brighton who became the first Council to declare a policy of non eviction for bedroom tax arrears, I believe it is NOW time for direct action.
I would therefore ask all of you who care enough about keeping people in their homes and have fight in your belly to take on this Council and the Government by forwarding the content of this blog on to those affected and those who can help them. Cut and paste or copy the following model letter to every tenant of Northampton Borough Council and or any Housing Associations who they know to be affected by the bedroom tax for them all to fill out and then send into the council without delay.
ITS TIME FOR DIRECT ACTION:
ITS TIME TO SHOW THEM THAT ALL OF THEIR ACTIONS HAVE POTENTIAL REACTIONS:
ITS TIME WE STARTED FIGHTING BACK:
I received your decision letter dated (INSERT DATE) and reference (INSERT REFERENCE NUMBER) that imposed an under occupation charge or bedroom tax of 14% 24% (DELETE AS APPROPRIATE) on my existing award of Housing Benefit
I am considering challenging this with a view to considering a formal appeal. However to enable me to understand fully the Councils position I require further information as listed below to be sent to me within 7 days of this letter to ensure that I have enough time to formulate any appeal, and that I am in full knowledge of the facts of my case within the time allowed.
Or in the alternative I request that the deadline for any such formal appeal be moved to 21 days after I receive the requested information below:
1. A written copy of the Council's policy and decision making procedures in relation to referring a socially housed claimant decision to the Rent Officer Service.
2. A full explanation of how the council decided that (INSERT ADDRESS) was determined to be a (INSERT BEDROOM NUMBERS) bed property for the under occupation charge and this to include what involvement if any of my landlord (INSERT LANDLORD NAME) in the process.
3. A copy of the decision calculation undertaken by the Council as to my individual circumstances and the basis on which this was calculated (please include a written evidenced declaration of what you believe my personal circumstances to be in order for you to determine that my property is under occupied)
Please state by way of covering letter with the requested information any changed deadline from above with regard to any formal appeal.
(INSERT NAME AND ADDRESS)
LETS GET TO IT: