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SALFORD BEDROOM TAX AND RENT INCREASE HORRORS
 

Star date: 25th February 2013

£110 EXTRA PER MONTH TO FIND – "I REALLY DON'T KNOW HOW I'M GOING TO BUY FOOD"

"The only thing left to me now is to protest and take to the streets"

Paul Hudson, of Pendleton, is in part time work and is about to get hammered from all sides…Bedroom Tax, a Council Tax benefit cut, a Salix rent increase, and gas and electricity price hikes.

On April 1st, like some bad April Fool's joke, Paul is going to have almost a quarter of his meagre income taken off him…"To me it's an expensive job being a poor man" says Paul "A very expensive job!"

Full details here…


Pendleton PFI hoarding Salford Say No To The Bedroom Tax
click image to enlarge

"We've now got the Bedroom Tax coming in and a £14 a month rent increase to live in a slum."


We're sat in the café at the Langworthy Cornerstone, and part time worker Paul Hudson is listing the extra money he's going to have to find in a few weeks time, thanks to welfare cuts by both the ConDem Government and Salford City Council. It's horrific.

"…Well there's £14 a week Bedroom Tax…that's £56 per month…plus a £14 per month Salix rent increase…that's £70…and I've lost most of my Council Tax benefits too because of the amount that I earn, so I will have to probably find the remaining £42 per month to pay… that's a total of…

We're running out of fingers…

"…£112 per month" he decides "I only earn £125 a week."

"At the moment my part time work pays for myself and helps me tick over, barely, but I can't afford to pay that" Paul explains "This will leave me with a few pounds a week to live on. At this point in time I don't know how I'm going to cope.

"I did say to a man from Salix the other day that I could see myself going to food banks in the near future to eat, because once I've paid gas, electricity and everything else I really don't know how I'm going to buy food. That is the real honest truth of the matter" he adds "At the end of the day you can go and buy the food but you can't cook it because there's no gas or electricity, or you can have gas electricity but no food. It can some weeks, literally, be one or the other."

The shocking thing is that Paul has done everything he's supposed to do to get out of poverty. He's fought his way off the dole and into part-time work. Yet he's still getting shafted from all sides, with the Bedroom Tax the biggest blow…

"Having a spare bedroom and working part time I'm going to be expected to find an extra £14 a week out of my part time earnings to pay for that supposed bedroom" Paul says "If I wasn't working it would have been taken out of my benefits but with me working it doesn't get paid to Salix, so I'm going to have to find that £14 a week out of my wages to pay direct to them.

"Yet I didn't ask for a two bedroom property ten years ago, when I moved in; I would have been more than happy with a one bedroom" he explains "But ten years ago there was a distinct lack of one bedroom social housing in Salford and that hasn't changed. It's steadily got worse."

Paul has asked to be moved into a one bedroom flat but, because he's got rent arrears, through being in poverty, Salix Homes, he says, won't help him… "and the other answer they gave was that there is a lack of one bedroom social housing properties within Pendleton and the Salford area anyway."

What is more, the flat that Paul is living in at Spruce Court is, as he describes it, a damp and draughty "slum" that doesn't meet the Decent Home Standard. Spruce Court was supposed to be refurbished as part of the Pendleton PFI regeneration but it's way behind schedule and, as the Salford Star revealed last week (see here), it has stalled again…

"If the wind and rain are going the wrong way it can be damp and draughty and horrible, and if I was to heat the property the way I want to heat it, it would probably cost me £50-£60 a month" Paul explains "At the moment I spend around £30 a month heating it, and that allows me to have the heating on for two hours a day.

"I've got an extra duvet but it's something I've got used to" he adds "Every year you're told `Next year it will be sorted out'… and now, ten years on, nothing's happened. And we've now got the Bedroom Tax coming in and a £14 a month rent increase to live in a slum."

While Salix Homes is telling its tenants that there are no one bedroom properties, three huge towerblocks, Peach Tree, Apple Tree and Pear Tree Court, are lying empty, full of one bedroom flats, awaiting demolition as part of the Pendleton PFI scheme - which will demolish more social housing properties than it is aiming to build.

"It does seem ludicrous" Paul agrees "What they're saying is that the ones they are knocking  down are not fit for purpose - but we fought to keep three concrete towerblocks [Sycamore, Mulberry and Magnolia] that they've done up; they're structurally sound and they're fit for purpose. Why couldn't that happen with the other three blocks?"

Salford Council is trying to blame all Salford's woes on the ConDem Government but Paul's case, in particular, shows that's it's a complicated poverty web that all public bodies have spun.

"Salford Council will say they are doing something by not increasing Council Tax like other councils but they've just increased the rent instead" Paul argues.

Meanwhile, Paul is stranded in a two bedroom flat waiting to get hit at the end of next month by Bedroom Tax, a Council Tax Benefit cut, a rent increase and escalating heating bills for a non-decent flat. And he's in part time work…

"To me it's an expensive job being a poor man – a very expensive job!" Paul decides "I said many months ago, when the riots happened in Salford, that it was the wrong time to protest and in the wrong form. I've come to the conclusion that the only thing left to me now is to protest and take to the streets - and I shall be doing so on March 16th at Albert Square in Manchester.

"It's a case now of the Government not listening to civilised comment about this any more, so it's time for people to say `Enough is enough!'" he concludes "In my eyes the Bedroom Tax is David Cameron's Poll Tax."

 

See also previous Salford Star feature on the Say No To The Bedroom Tax speech at Saturday's rally against the cuts - click here

Sal Ford wrote
at 18:56:09 on 27 February 2013
Paul. Fact is most local authorities are making plans to receive virtually nothing at all in bedroom tax or council tax shortfall. That is the fact of the matter. Salford will be doing the same. Remember the old refrain - can't pay, won't pay? F*ck em. Just don't pay it. You think the council has the ability or the budget to chase you? Do you think they are not shaking in their boots about thousands upon thousands of benefits claimants suddenly receiving all of their money - rent, council tax, benefits - in their hand at the end of the month? I know for a fact Manchester Housing and Council Tax Benefits dept have absolutely no plan in place. They know they cannot physically collect on these debts so they are just hoping against hope it doesn't happen. Can't pay. Won't pay! Simple. And what are they going to do? Evict you? And then have to rehouse you? You might as well play it smart and get into a cycle of magistrates court hearings, promising to pay £2 a month of your debt, pay it for a month, then stop, then let the process start again, and carry on like that until we have a new Labour government and they realise that it is costing more trying to retrieve owed money from these years of insanity than they are getting back. Fuck them all till Tuesday is what I say.
 
Bernard wrote
at 16:02:55 on 27 February 2013
hawksmoor, I'd write a longer reply to your post, but unfortunately I don't understand gibberish.
 
Salford Star wrote
at 06:53:42 on 27 February 2013
See Truth About Cuts comment below- you wrote that we should check it out - so we are. As soon as we've done that it will be posted. Hope that's ok!
 
TruthAboutCuts wrote
at 06:51:12 on 27 February 2013
Why was my comment removed? It contained the truth, nothing was untrue I posted about priorities. If the council have an issue with that, they can change their priority order rather than give the most dangerous criminals who prey on vulnerable people priority housing above all others rather than bury their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't happen.
 
hawksmoor wrote
at 22:11:51 on 26 February 2013
A fine slum eh a wonderful view over Chapel Street elavators an inside lavatory hot and cold running water the only rodents those hoodies hanging around the local 7 /11 shop you people dont know your born fighting for tallys outside the dock gates to get bitten by rats in the bannana boats festering slums crumbling brickwork bugs in the wood work mice in the pantry diesel fumes mixed with coal smoke you could cut with a knoife and the only benefit you got were an hour in front of a roaring heap of nutty slack the heat were so intense in the hearth and so cold any where else in the crumbling edifice we called home that chill blanes were an ineviatable feature of life karl Marx by passed our house because it were so poor he couldnt categorise it no dvds no blade runners no disabled second life if you were handicapped you stayed handicapped. I am now the product of those years as cuise the streets of Salford for.....................victims to be my victims...................
 
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