An organising meeting called on Saturday 19th January by Defend Council Housing (DCH), Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Right to Work (RtW) attracted around 40 people representing 32 different campaign groups and union branches to build an umbrella campaign to oppose ConDem attacks on the poor and fight for benefit justice. The idea for the meeting came from a workshop on Welfare and Austerity hosted by DPAC and RtW at the Unite the Resistance conference in London in November.
Anger and desperation are mounting as benefit claimants brace themselves for changes due to come in this April at a time when many are already having to choose between heating and eating. The Bedroom Tax will mean tenants having to find around a £1000 a year to plug the cut in Housing Benefit, something that is simply unaffordable for people also facing a cut in Council Tax Support through what is fast becoming known as the new Poll Tax, and the benefit cap. Disability benefits are under attack on an unprecedented scale with cuts to DLA set to remove essential support from more than 600,000 claimants and the closure of the Independent Living Fund literally returning disabled people to the institutions. Unemployed workers are labelled as skivers and scroungers when the reality is there are no jobs and mandatory work placements are being used to drive down wages. Many low paid workers who will be expected to implement the changes will also be affected by them as research by union PCS has shown.
Campaign groups and actions are multiplying as people are left with no option but to fightback. In Liverpool last week 100 tenants attended a meeting called by Defend Your Homes Against the Bedroom Tax with plans for February to occupy a local housing association that is using housing benefit cuts to push tenants into unpaid work. Local Councils are being targeted with protests called at town halls such as those organised by Camden United for Benefit Justice. A facebook group called Anti Bedroom Tax has over 6000 members, many of whom have never been politically active before. Fuel Poverty Action is linking up with Greater London Pensioners Association and Disabled People Against Cuts on a weekend of action from 15th – 17th February and Boycott Workfare has a week of action planned from 18th – 23rd March.
The Campaign for Benefit Justice is about uniting the growing resistance, overcoming the divide and rule tactics the Government is using to get away with its assault on the 99% and bringing together disabled people, tenants, unemployed workers, trade unions, students, pensioner, single mothers and others to oppose benefit cuts.
We will be holding an event in London in early March with protests planned for budget day. More details to follow. For more information or to sign up to the statement below please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campaign for Benefit Justice – Statement
Cuts in benefits are an unjust attack on the poor. Cuts concentrated on Housing Benefit are already breaking up families, communities and support networks. They will mean poverty, debt and evictions.
We oppose all cuts in benefits and tax credits. We did not cause the banking and economic crisis and will not be scapegoated to pay for it.
We reject false divisions and stigmatisation of people who are low-paid or unpaid.
We will join with local and national campaigns including disabled peoples, tenants, unemployed workers, trade unions, students, pensioner, single mothers and others to oppose benefit cuts
We will support and link up local campaigns.
We oppose all evictions and legal action against those hit by benefit cuts and support all actions taken in defence.
Defend Council Housing
Disabled People Against Cuts
Right to Work
National Shop Stewards Network