At less than a day's notice, sixty people turned up from all over Greater Manchester to a house in Walkden this morning to face up the bailiffs due to evict Vicky, Salford's first Bedroom Tax victim.
She had got into rent arrears with social landlord City West Housing, compounded by Bedroom Tax debts, and was to be evicted at noon. However, a dramatic court hearing this morning adjourned the eviction for four weeks while the court makes additional enquires around housing benefits.
The emergency hearing had been set up by Shelter's duty housing solicitor after the Greater Manchester Anti Bedroom Tax Federation had intervened, and Mark Krantz from the Federation, speaking outside Vicky's house announced to cheers that "They are not going to evict Vicky from her home today…
"There is no doubt that if we weren't here City West would not have changed their mind" he added "because when I contacted them yesterday afternoon they said that `It's nothing to do with the Bedroom Tax' and that they were minded to go ahead with this eviction.
"That's why we put a call out to everyone to come and make sure that Vicky is not evicted from her home" he explained "We know why Vicky had rent arrears, because of poverty. The Cabinet Minister, Maria Miller, has two homes, one of them worth over a million pounds…more expenses were fiddled by her than the rent arrears that Vicky owes. Yet what does she get? A pay-off because she stood down from the Cabinet. There is one law for them and one for us.
"If they could evict Vicky today, who would they have evicted tomorrow?" he asked "Bedroom Tax arrears are growing and growing, and more and more people are getting into debt. It's a very important step here today."
Representatives of Anti Bedroom Tax campaign groups from all over Greater Manchester were outside the house this morning - from Bolton, South Manchester, Middleton, Wythenshawe, Chorlton and Bury, plus protectors from Barton Moss and the Occupy GMP HQ Camp, local residents and neighbours.
Paul Gerrard from Salford Against The Cuts welcomed the variety of groups supporting the anti-eviction action…
"It's really important that we bring the movement together and find a way forward against austerity" he said "All our movements can learn from each other."
He used the eviction as an example of what can happen when houses owned by Salford Council are privatised and given to landlords like City West Housing…
"We will be campaigning to keep council housing, and to stop the Salix Homes stock transfer" explained "because you can see what happens when you transfer your stock to private housing associations."
Salford City UNISON was also supporting the action this morning and branch treasurer Ameen Hadi, said: "For us it is about working class people paying the price for austerity, and we have to stand together and unite for whoever are the victims of austerity and make sure they aren't victims, that we support them and fight back. What today proves is that if we stand together we can stop these things happening."
Meanwhile, City West Housing Trust issued the following statement…
"While we cannot discuss individual customer circumstances, we can confirm that this case is not directly related to non-payment of spare room subsidy/bedroom tax.
"Eviction proceedings are always an absolute last resort for City West, and we take every possible step to ensure that all of our customers are aware of the full range of support and advice services available to them.
"We are fully committed to helping customers who are affected by the Government's welfare reforms, and last year we spent in excess of £500,000 to support customers through the changes."
Whatever, for City West and Salix and any other social landlord who tries to evict a tenant, directly or indirectly, for Bedroom Tax arrears this was certainly a shot across the bows…
* See also previous Salford Star article on the City West eviction – click here
Photos by Steven Speed
More photos on the Salford Star Picture Story section - https://salfordstar.jux.com/2831158