AXE THE TAX!

Protestors outside Fife House
Protestors outside Fife House

A NEWLY-formed Kirkcaldy group joined a protest at a chaotic council meeting.

Kirkcaldy Axe the Bedroom Tax members linked-up with campaigners from other parts of the Kingdom outside Fife Council’s headquarters before last Thursday’s full meeting of the local authority.

They later took their protest against the under-occupancy rent rebate reduction into the chamber where councillors were debating a Scottish National Party motion which would have pledged the council not to evict tenants who amassed arrears because of the cut.

The motion was ruled out on a technicality by the ruling Labour administrations, prompting an eruption of anger from the protestors, including the local group’s Louise McLeary.

She says she faces a reduction in support of £11.45 every week and who believes the policy eventually adopted - that tenants will not be evicted provided they cooperate with the council by proving that they cannot afford to pay is unjust.

She said of councillors, who were called “ratbags” at one point in the stormy meeting: “It was a disgraceful performance by people we elected to look after our interests.

“What it boils down to is that Labour want tenants to go through even more means-testing.

Despicable

“What they must understand is that when you’re given housing benefit it means that you are proved that you’re not to be able to pay a penny more towards your rent.

“They obviously think that they can talk people into doing without so that they can pay the bedroom tax - quite despicable.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of people attended an anti-bedroom tax meeting in Glenrothes last Wednesday.

They joined politicians at the event, which ended with an agreement to campaign against the charge, part of a series of changes to the benefits and tax system brought in by the coalition Government and applying to people of working age who rent their home from a council or housing association and who are in receipt of housing benefit.

They will see their benefit cut if they are considered to live in a home with more bedrooms than they need: 14 per cent for one room and 25 per cent for two or more.

Fife Council has added £1 million to the discretionary fund from government to support people affected.

Burden

Campaigners at the meeting claimed people with one ‘extra’ bedroom will lose £36.58 per month and those with two £67.90, a burden which they believe no-one who has to live on benefits can bear and insist there is also a shortage of houses for people who can’t afford to pay to downsize to.

It will, they say, hit people with medical needs, the retired, and those on mobility compensation particularly hard.

Axe the bedroom tax groups in Fife are calling on people not to pay the tax and Ms McLeary is urging anyone who is worried about the bedroom tax to call her on 267402.