Friday 10 May 2013

No 'bedroom tax' eviction policy comes into effect in Brighton

Green-led councillors in Brighton & Hove yesterday fulfilled the party's pledge to introduce a policy saying that no city council tenant should be evicted from a council-owned home just because they cannot afford to pay their bedroom tax.

Brighton & Hove was the first city in the country to see such a declaration and yesterday afternoon it continued to lead the way on bedroom tax evictions when its plans become council policy.

It is two months since the housing committee chair, councillor Liz Wakefield, made a commitment to introduce the policy, describing the so-called 'spare room subsidy', or bedroom tax, as "immoral and harmful legislation from this morality-free coalition government".

In her final meeting as chair of the committee, before the post moves on, councillor Wakefield saw the commitment fulfilled when fellow councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty proposed the Green's no eviction policy, which was seconded by all Green councillors present and then approved unanimously by the Green, Labour and Conservative councillors serving on the committee.

The policy ensures that the council may continue to use all usual means to pursue non-payment other than bailiffs or evictions.

Councillor Wakefield said: "The Green council is proud to lead the way in fighting the bedroom tax and pleased to make it clear to our council tenants that we will not send the bailiffs round to evict them solely because they are unable to pay the coalition government's unjust, unscrupulous and often unaffordable bedroom tax."

Councillor Mac Cafferty said: "The bedroom tax is one of the cruellest components of a cruel coalition attack on the poorest and most vulnerable people. As Greens, we could not stand by while people might face eviction as a result, so we've taken a national lead with this new council policy. We urge other councils to join us and make this government's plans unworkable."

Caroline Lucas MP added: "I congratulate councillor colleagues on taking such a principled stand against this heartless government policy which is both immoral and unworkable."

Speaking for the Brighton & Hove Green Party, chair Rob Shepherd concluded: "This is a radical policy from a radical party, telling the coalition government it cannot have its own way on bedroom tax and welfare restructuring. And it’s a policy that offers reassurance to many council tenants across the city at a time when they desperately need it. No other party would have brought such a relief to Brighton & Hove residents."

The policy takes immediate effect.

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