Fight to Cut the Cuts

On February 26, a campaign was held in front of Council House at Birmingham protesting against the Cuts. The campaign started from 11 am by the activists blockading all entrances to prevent councilors from entering the budget meeting. At 2 pm, Council Budget meeting was held.

From a statement on the Save Birmingham website:

“We are taking this action because austerity is economically backward and is not helping the economy. Furthermore, these cuts to Birmingham are highly undemocratic and against the will of most people living in the city – who didn’t vote for this.

The £101 m of cuts to be voted on today in Birmingham include a cut of £32.7 million to the Adults and Communities budget, £23.8 million to Children Young People and Families, and £28.3 million to Leisure Services. High on the hit list are: Voluntary Sector Funding (£4.4 m), Children Centres (£3 m), Children Residential Care Homes (£1.6 m), Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (£1.4 m), Home to School Transport (£1 m), Youth Service (£0.47 m) and reduced subsidy for the Meals Service (£0.4 m).

We must now fight these cuts on the ground service by service. Victories can be won! Campaigners across Birmingham have overturned cuts with well-organised campaigns.”

Outside Council House the representatives of the campaign placed few books, leaflets of upcoming protest, and banners. The public approached to them to share their problems and views towards various cuts.

A rally began at 5 pm outside the Council House with demonstration. It began with the speech by one of the campaigner about the cuts which was followed by many others. In the beginning; around 40 people were present which increased as the rally proceeded by shouting:

“DON’T VOTE FOR THE CUTS” 

Charlie Hayes, one among the campaign expressed his views on Bedroom tax. He considers Bedroom tax as an attack on working people. The below link is an audio on his opinion towards Bedroom Tax:


 
A retired teacher named Lynn Gregory was one of the protester giving her full support in the campaign. She expresses her views on Bedroom tax:

“It is incredible to know that people should be penalized for having spare rooms. In some situation such as foster children who live in a place are being taxed and foster families are losing money because their children being foster.”

She mentions about disabled people who were given disability living allowance in order to live independently which is also been cut. The campaign also supports the disabled people. The government needs to change the policies by keeping in mind the public difficulties.

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‘This was my home, my safe place for 31 years, but not any more’

A 59 year old disabled woman from Birmingham talks about how she will be hit by the Bedroom Tax. She has been living in the house for the past 31 years and she finds it as a difficult task to leave the place.

Requesting anonymity, she explains her situation:

“I have been living in a social housing arrangement in Birmingham for 31 years. I am on Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) as I have Scoliosis and suffer from long standing anxiety attacks and depression.

“From the age of 15, I had been working in a factory 40 hours a week and paying my taxes. I have done a lot of physical lifting and carrying and cleaning. Even after my marriage, I had to work for my three children. Now all got settled in their life and left home.

“I live in a three bedroom house as it was allocated to me 31 years ago when I had three children to bring up. It is my home, my safe place. Words cannot express how upset I am and how this decision is affecting my illnesses.”

She considers Bedroom Tax to be all about social cleansing. Getting rid of the poor, disabled people of society and slowly squeezing the life out of them and making them suffer are the reasons for introducing such taxes.

Criticising the government, she says:

“I believe this government is ashamed of disabled and poor people because this tax does not affect anyone else. If you have the money you can stay in an under occupied house but if you are dependent on benefits you can’t afford to stay as you don’t have enough money to pay and eat or heat.

“I think the government will just top up the causes they choose to support with the extra money. I suspect none of this money will be spent to build more suitable housing after they’re sold. In fact they’re still selling their social housing stock at ridiculous knock down prices.”

Housing benefit enables me to live like a human being. Take that away from me and I may as well be a homeless animal scrounging around the wealthy’s bins for food.”

She says there is no one-bedroom accommodation available under her housing benefits scheme.

” I will have to suffer and pay more. I am living on the edge of fear all the time and feel very ill and frightened. I had a life, when once looked forward to being this age, enjoying with grandchildren. But not anymore.”

To solve such problems at least in future, she shares her opinion saying that the government can implement the changes with new tenancies after April 1st. This would create awareness among people and plan their future expenses accordingly. Instead of not just dropping this bombshell out of the blue and causing untold misery and hardships.