Our next meeting will be as part of the York People’s Assembly. We will be joining people campaigning against the cuts in all fields – from the NHS to low pay – for a bit of food and to begin planning for the new year.
13th January, Friends Meeting House, Friargate starting with food at 6.30, continuing with the meeting at 7.30pm. Come along anytime and hope to see you there!
From the York People’s Assembly website:
Pot-luck meal and meeting to kick-start 2014
Posted on January 4, 2014 by Graham Martin
On Monday 13th January, we’re hosting a pot-luck meal and speakers to kick off our regular decision meetings for 2014. The event will be held at Friends Meeting House, Friargate starting with food at 6.30 and continuing with our meeting at 7.30pm (click for Facebook event). With the Lib Dem spring conference coming to York in March, we’ve invited the TUC Yorkshire region’s Neil Foster to share plans for a huge demonstration in our city. We hope to have a couple of local campaigners sharing as well.
A meal is a great way to get people sharing together, whether its food, stories or ideas. We’re asking those who can to bring a dish to share – please don’t worry if you can’t. We know that lots of people who show up will be vegetarian, so ideally take this into account (bonus points for vegan!). If you’ve got a pot of food that needs reheating, the kitchen at Friend’s Meeting House will be open from about 5.30pm. We’ll aim to lay out the buffet between 6.15 and 6.30, but late items won’t be a problem. When we’re done, we’ll load the dishwasher and get on with the meeting.
Around 50 people took part in the Bedroom Tax protest in St Helen’s Square on 12th December, before the Council debated its report on the York Housing Crisis petition. Councillors arriving for the night’s Full Council session were greeted with placards and chants, and a short rally followed. As the council meeting got underway, Assembly member and York Housing Crisis campaigner Chris Fuller addressed councillors in a speech which you can watch on Youtube.
The protest was addressed by Ben Drake, who as UNISON Secretary, represents housing staff at the council. He conveyed their anger at being forced to implement policies like the Bedroom Tax. Green Councillor Dave Taylor reported on his group’s attempt to get a similar concession from the Labour group in the summer, to no avail.
Chris talked about the bedroom tax as a punishment on the poorest and most vulnerable and also took the opportunity to demand controls on spiralling private rents and a national program of new council houses. Of particular concern are those who, whilst paying their rent up to date, are falling prey to loan sharks or building arrears in other areas such as Council Tax, for which support has also been cut.
Later during the meeting, when councillors came to discuss the petition and a report written in response to it, the controlling Labour group were unable to offer any reassurances that proceedings wouldn’t be started against people who are in arrears.
It is estimated 2,143 households will be hit by the bedroom tax in the York Central/York Outer constituencies. There are few properties available for tenants to “downsize” to, so they are going to have this benefit cut forced upon them. Households will lose and average of £556 /year if they have one spare bedroom and £992/year if they have two spare bedrooms. The tenants being hit are often low paid, unemployed, sick or disabled and cannot afford to lose this income. On top of the bedroom tax many vulnerable tenants are losing further income because of cuts to council tax benefit.
Following a successful demonstration against the Bedroom Tax in York earlier this month York’s Housing Crisis have launched a petition calling on City of York council to:
1. Make a commitment not to evict any tenant who falls into arrears as a direct result of the bedroom tax or reduction in council tax discount.
2. Look at reclassifying council owned properties as smaller homes, to ensure rooms not used as bedrooms are not classified as such, and to encourage housing associations in the York area to do the same. For example, an extra room used to store equipment related to a disability should not be classed as a bedroom, or a bedroom that is smaller than the government’s minimum space standards.
Sign the petition at http://democracy.york.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=197&HPID=7045263
Hard copy of Bedroom Tax petition. Once complete please bring along to a York’s Housing Crisis meeting or pass on to one of our group.
Recent press coverage for the York Housing Crisis campaign…
‘Caught in York’s housing trap’, Guardian Northern Blog, 5th June 2012
Anne Czernik, ‘York tackles housing crisis which threatens its ‘equal city drive’, Guardian Northern Blog, 5th June 2012
Anne Czernik, ‘Exodus of the poor’, Morning Star , 6th June 2012
Grace Robin Doughton, ‘Is York equal when it comes to a home?’ , One&Other, 6th June 2012
Mike Laycock and Ben McClusky, ‘Expert says housing shortage could lead to disaster’, York Press, 13th June 2012