Change Gonna Come by liam carr
Liam Carr, a regular contributor to Think Left, is one of the two Labour candidates for the Leadgate, Medomsley and Ebchester area .
One of the things I am hearing about while I am canvassing for the local elections is the bedroom tax. Many of the houses in Leadgate, Ebchester, Hamsterley and The Dene are bungalows. Most are like my Gran’s house at Watling, with 5 small rooms in total: Living room, kitchen, bathroom and 2 bedrooms. There are very few 1 bedroom flats in the area because demand for this type of property has always been low. I listened to one voter who had been recently made redundant. She told me she was losing £16 a week due to the bedroom tax, and that this meant she was going to struggle to pay for bus fares. Even people who are unaffected can see the gross unfairness of this tax.People who live in social housing are not scroungers or skivers, they are normal people. The vast majority of people in receipt of benefits are in work, and even those that aren’t are not long term unemployed. I spoke with another man who lived alone and was being hit by the bedroom tax. He was, like many people, unemployed for short periods, signing on and off almost on a monthly basis when he could not find work or when fixed term contracts came to an end.We must not allow ourselves to be divided and categorised by this government into strivers and skivers. Unless we are super rich, we are all just a couple of months away from not being able to afford the rent or mortgage.
It is claimed that the purpose of the bedroom tax is to save money and free up social housing but in reality people can’t downsize when there are no smaller properties. All that will happen is that the people affected will have to move into a similar property that is owned by a private landlord. Regardless of size these properties do not attract the bedroom tax. The cost to the taxpayer goes up, and the shortage of housing is not addressed.
Many private landlords look after both their properties and their tenants, but walk round any former council estate and you will see that there are 3 types of houses. Privately owned, council owned and private landlord owned. There are some private rented properties that are badly maintained and cost a fortune to heat. The council must use all the powers it has available to make sure that the decent homes standard is met. When housing benefit is paid to unscrupulous landlords, both the tenant and the taxpayer are being ripped off.
We hear about ‘austerity’ on the news; there is talk of the ‘chancellor’s failed economic policy’, but these are abstract terms. What they actually mean in real life is that people who have very little are being asked to live on even less and the disabled are being forced into poverty. Older people are having to choose between heating and eating and relied-on services are being put at risk. Permanent jobs are scarce.
We can expect more of the same from the Tories; they have tried to decimate Northern towns like Consett before. They are doing it again, not by closing the pits and the steelworks but by a policy of disproportionate cuts, under-investment and wilful neglect.
Change cannot come soon enough.
Published on Oct 22, 2012
A Change Is Gonna Come is a 1964 single by R&B singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, written and first recorded in 1963 and released under the RCA Victor label shortly after his death in late 1964. Though only a modest hit for Cooke in comparison with his previous singles, the song came to exemplify the sixties Civil Rights Movement. The song has gained in popularity and critical acclaim in the decades since its release.