- Facing eviction: Deborah Kirk, who is opposed to the new bedroom tax, pictured at home in Immingham with her son, Kneale, 3. Picture: Rick Byrne
A SINGLE mum who challenged the Prime Minister to live in Immingham on benefits in protest at welfare reforms has revealed she is facing eviction after refusing to pay the bedroom tax – and she’s not the only one. Deborah Kirk already owes £160 in missed top-up payments, which she says she has no intention of paying, and claims she has been told she will be evicted if she does not settle the bill. She also claims she knows of 15 other households in her area alone who are also facing eviction from Shoreline Housing Association properties as they, too, are refusing to pay the tax – although none of them wished to come forward.
She spoke out as protesters came together at Grimsby’s Riverhead against the reform in North East Lincolnshire, where the cuts amount to a loss of £1.7-million per year. As reported, Mrs Kirk and her two-year-old son Kneale were left under-occupying her three-bedroom property in Immingham, where she has lived for 46 years, when her eldest son Jordan, 22, moved out. Having a “spare” room left her with the choice of paying an additional £20 per week to stay in the house or moving away from the area, her family and all her friends, to a smaller property.
With a monthly income of £480, after her council tax and housing benefit has been paid, to feed and clothe herself and her son – and pay all the bills – this is a sum she says she simply cannot afford. And, although Shoreline has also offered to move her into smaller properties in Grimsby, where the bedroom tax will no longer apply, she does not want to.
She said: “I am not doing either. They are forcing me now. They are making me leave. “They have told me it will go to court and what I owe in rent will keep going up and up. “I am not paying it.” A Shoreline spokeswoman said there had been an increase in the number of notices served on tenants since the introduction of the reforms, but it was not yet known how many were as a direct result of the bedroom tax. However, she added most were making arrangements to pay and considering their options and 18 of 25 Band 1 (priority) applicants into smaller homes.
Our homes mean something to us, yet this ‘Bedroom Tax’ brings a new suffering and deprivation. A characterisation of the Conservative spirit of the age. Unleashed towards the social housing sector, tenants witness a systematic account of wealth denial, as important monies are ruthlessly taken because of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Our homes are important to us as the poor have less, so what we do have means more. To remain submissive is no longer an option, not to question this putrid policy would go against democracy, it is our duty our common right to speak out.
As this political far right onslaught takes place, the ‘Bedroom Tax’ appears not to be a sound judgement of economic sense only beneficial to class warfare to suppress social housing tenants. We live in a corporate culture, a logo product consumerist based reality which destroys the welfare state by defunding it on purpose. By forcing extreme poverty upon the poor, they are forced to work. This is their logic by the way. Forced labour, cheap wages still isn’t going to help as high rents will need HB top up, just to make ends meet.
This ‘Bedroom Tax’ dampens the spirits of those effected and our voices are silenced at the councils. Crawley Borough Council refuse to discuss the ‘Bedroom Tax’ claiming they are not paid to talk politics. Not paid to think more like. They just refer you to Tory Henry Smith M.P who voted for the Welfare Reform Act 2012, also voted for an increase in student fees and clearly has nothing but contempt for the poor. The ‘Bedroom Tax’ is the new repression characterising our community in Crawley and up and down the country as the Tories financial massacre of welfare spending gets ripped further as they hate the welfare state, that much is obvious.
They clearly don’t want public opinion reflected in public policy, in fact the gap is widening as our opinions are not expressed in policy. The very definition of democracy. We need to be together as the ‘Bedroom Tax’ brings with it fresh wounds daily as debt increases and the burdens grow heavier. We don’t have to be passive, obeying robots, we can peacefully just not comply. Our very law of nature drives us to question, it drives us to critically think we are social creatures of political content and let us not loose our natural heritage.
Debbie Simmons, Council Tenant, CITA.