See PART ONE – a report on the march and rally in Manchester yesterday – click here
"We need to show those who are going to line their pockets out of our poverty that if they want class war, then they're going to have a fight on their hands from us…"
Yesterday Ryan Bradshaw, of Young Legal Aid Lawyers, who works on the front line with victims of the Bedroom Tax and other benefit cuts, made the most poignant speech at the Albert Square rally following the Greater Manchester Coalition Against Cuts march.
Ryan set out what the Bedroom Tax is, what it will mean for communities and what must be done to try and stop it…
"At its most basic it's going to be a cut in housing benefit for people, with one spare bedroom a 14% cut, and and 25% for two spare bedrooms. No guidance has been given by the Government as to what constitutes a bedroom, so they're going to class a box room as a bedroom and use that to cut people's benefit entitlement.
Children under 10 are going to be expected to share a room, and children under 16 of the same sex are expected to share a room. Under this policy we're expected to believe that it's reasonable for triplets under 15years old to share a box bedroom.
The DWP [Department of Work and Pensions] impact assessment says that it's going to hit 66% of households with disabled people in them, at a time when these people are already facing the most heinous benefit cuts that we've seen.
It's going to affect 660,000 to 930,000 of the poorest households in the country, and 43% of those in social housing in the North West.
50,000 households in Greater Manchester are going to lose around £16 a week - that's £10-12million out of the pockets of people, money they could be spending to boost the local economy that's right in the shit.
Parents with weekend care of their children aren't going to be allowed an extra bedroom to keep them in. Steve Webb, DWP Minister, said that people should work more to pay. So basically he thinks that you can just go to your boss and ask for three extra hours work a week and they'll give it to you. It shows they're absolutely clueless.
It's been calculated that some people will have to work 63 hours a week to make up for the bedroom tax because of benefit disregards. If you look at it in conjunction with the changes that are coming through in terms of council tax benefit, people who are in receipt of job seekers allowance are looking at losing 25% of their income.
These people, my clients, are now looking at making tough choices between putting food on the table or sticking the heating on. How has it come to that in a first world country?
It's our responsibility as activists and citizens to show the people affected that we're here to help them and we're not going to stand for these injustices. We can be inspired because there's been mass movements in Liverpool where there's been tenants meetings and occupations of housing associations that are failing to help tenants. Their willingness to fight this appalling policy should be an inspiration to us in Greater Manchester.
We need to remind the politicians that we're the ones who employ them. We need to remind the rich that there's more of us than there are of them. And we need to show those who are going to line their pockets out of our poverty that if they want class war then they're going to have a fight on their hands from us..."
There is a No To The Bedroom Tax meeting at 7pm this coming Tuesday 26th February at Friends Meeting House in Manchester.
There is also a huge protest planned against the Bedroom Tax on 16th March 1pm Piccadilly Gardens
• Over the coming weeks the Salford Star will be covering the Bedroom Tax, Council Tax Benefit Cuts and Rent Rises in depth - see the first feature: Salford Bedroom Tax and Rent Increase Horrors - click here
In Salford there are the following protests against cuts coming up this week...
* Monday 25th February 5pm
Lobby of the Labour Party Group at the Civic Centre
* Wednesday 27th February 8am
Lobby of the Full Council Meeting at the Civic Centre