'Bedroom tax' and welfare cuts protesters take to streets across UK

30/03/2013 20:15

Due to be introduced next month, the 'bedroom tax' entails a cut in housing benefit for claimants whose home has a spare room

Bedroom tax protest in Traflagar Square, London

Protesters gather in Trafalgar Square in London to rally against the welfare cuts due to take effect in April. Photograph: Andrew Schofield/Rex Features

Several hundred people gathered in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday to protest against the government's welfare cuts and the controversial "bedroom tax".

Simultaneous protests were held in towns and cities across the UK ahead of the cuts scheduled to come into force in April. In Glasgow, around 2,500 people, including trade unionists and people from disabled groups, marched from Glasgow Green to George Square in the city centre.

The "bedroom tax", which is due to be introduced next month, will entail a cut in housing benefit for claimants whose home has a spare room. Pensioners, who have the highest number of spare rooms, are exempt, but critics say that a spare room is a necessity for many families, particularly those with ill or disabled members.

Noreen Aslam, 41, a working mother of four from Manchester was in London with her family. "We heard this was on and wanted to come. I think its a disgrace what they're doing, its the poll tax all over again. Homeless is Manchester used to be just the occassional person you'd see, now its the normality to see people sleeping on the streets. Its all over the place. I think its disgusting."

John MacDonald, 66, travelled from Norfolk. "I'd like to know if the second homes we pay for for MPs are all one bedroom. Its a disgrace. This government is dead in the water because we won't forget what they are doing to working class people," he said.

Sue Carter, 58, from Waltham Forest agreed: "They have just shut the soup kitchen in Waltham Forest despite having a real problem with homelessness. I'm a working single parent and now I've a tiny boxroom and now I'm faced with the choice between food, heat or paying the 'bedroom tax'.

"People have looked after their homes, improved them. Why should they be turfed out? An old widowed lady I know told the council she would be happy to move to a one-bedroom [home], but she would like to still have a little garden for her two dogs. They told her to get rid of her dogs."


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