Non-payment and partial payment of the extra rent social housing tenants have to pay because of the Bedroom Tax is beginning to put pressure on the policy.
Leeds City Council has said about 50% of its affected tenants are in arrears and this is expected to rise. Many other local authorities and housing associations have similar levels of arrears.
On 7 June 34 Labour local authorities met in Manchester and issued a statement condemning the Bedroom Tax and demanding that it is repealed. This is very welcome; it that puts Labour in local government ahead of the national party which has given no commitment to repeal the policy if they win the general election. The conference also discussed the issue of non payment, but the contents of this discussion have been kept quiet.
Anti-Bedroom Tax campaigners are now demanding social landlords commit to a no-eviction policy. It’s clear that some local authorities like Leeds do have this as their de facto policy but are continuing to hassle tenants for payment and in some cases threatening legal action rather then evictions.
There have been some cases already of housing associations taking tenants to court. Recently Southway Housing Trust in Manchester took Ella Lorelle, a mature student and mother to court to evict her for arrears. Thanks to pressure by local campaigners the case was dropped and Ella is now receiving Discretionary Housing Payment.
Some groups — Disabled People against Cuts and the SWP — have set up the national Anti-Bedroom Tax and Benefit Justice Network. Whilst some local Bedroom Tax groups seem wary of this body, it does seem to be a step forward, based on delegates from local groups.
It has called a day of action on the Bedroom Tax on 27 July.