Angry Liverpool Bedroom Tax Meeting Vows: ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’



SUNDAY, JANUARY 13, 2013  

Around one hundred people packed the large meeting room at Liverpool’s Black-E almost to capacity on Saturday, as they gathered to discuss the impact that the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax‘ will have on people in the area, and discuss the potential for resistance.

The mood at the meeting – which was organised by the Liverpool Claimant Network – was one of militancy and determination. The majority were from outside ‘the usual suspects’ left circles, and this is clearly an issue which has the potential to mobilise a lot of working class people over the coming months.

There was a sense that for many, standing up and fighting for their livelihoods is now seen as the easiest and most realistic option.

Things kicked off with a presentation from one of the main organisers, who gave a brief introduction to what the tax will mean. As the Solidarity Federation report summarised:

“As of April 1st this year, housing association tenants who have a spare room will be faced with a reduction in their housing benefit of between £40 and £80 a month (a reduction of up to 25%) as part of the government’s welfare reform plans. In Liverpool alone, 12,000 tenants will be affected. Nationally, the figure is around 660,000. Meanwhile, the Empty Homes Agency says there are 725,000 homes lying empty across the country, enough to house 1.8 million people.”

The huge availability of ‘spare’ housing stock blows a massive hole in the government’s claim that the measures are necessary to ensure multi-bedroomed residences are there for those who need them. As for the ‘no money’ argument, this should be rejected on the basis that it was bankers not working class who triggered the economic crisis – and were bailed out afterwards. Besides, if the proposals floated yesterday come to fruition, the enforcement of the tax will cost the government far more than they ‘save’ through making reduced benefits payments.

In the open discussion part of the afternoon, it was broadly agreed that ‘solidarity networks’ will be set up based on locality within the city, with all networks joining up through a central ‘hub’. People will go into their communities to rally support over the coming weeks, and direct action will be taken in the run-up to April, and as the powers that be try to wring out every penny from the working class.

Comparisons were raised between the Bedroom Tax and the largely successful resistance to the Irish Household Charge. The Kirkby rent strike of 1972 was also recalled. But perhaps most iconic is the local ‘can’t pay, won’t pay’ direct action campaigns which made the Poll Tax unworkable towards the end of the Thatcher regime.

Though the end of the meeting was necessarily chaotic, I left with the distinct impression that the grapes of wrath are growing heavy for the vintage, and 2013 could be an extremely difficult year for the coalition government.

The Combat the Bedroom Tax on Merseyside Facebook group can be found here.

The email list is contactable at
A generic Bedroom Tax leaflet will be made available and can be collected from News From Nowhere bookshop, 96 Bold St in Liverpool, from next week.


18 thoughts on “Angry Liverpool Bedroom Tax Meeting Vows: ‘Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’

  1. Christopher says:

    I got my letter from Wirral Borough Council informing me of this back in Nov 2012..

    Whoever came up with this idea is a prize tit and needs sacking..

    a; There are no available housing association one-bedroom houses in this area, and b; if I managed to find something in the private sector it would cost more than where I live now.. dumb mofo’s

  2. Laz says:

    Unfortunately the present elected are not bright enought to see the faults in their plans when they have these “brilliant” ideas as they are totaly ignorant as to how the general population live & what accomodation is on the market.

  3. Colin Wilson says:

    The fact that there is no available housing stock to move into is *exactly* why they want such a “tax” – why screw just a few people, when you can screw a large part of the population.

    I’m surprised that they haven’t tried to widen the scope of this by applying it to home owners too, to be honest, as an escalator to council tax.

    It’s the “window tax” for the 21st century.

    1. Christopher says:

      Fuck the lot of them..I won’t pay any extra because I can’t pay any extra..I’m having a hard enough time as it is trying to juggle paying bills and finding enough for food/heating etc..And if they try to evict me I’ll kick up such a fuss they’ll have to take notice..

      1. Jean says:

        You’re not being asked to pay any extra.

        It’s out of your control – you will just receive less housing benefit.

  4. Colin Wilson says:

    A point I raised elsewhere…

    If the “minimum required to live on” is what they’re paying as benefits, how can you be expected to live on less than that minimum if you’re forced to pay this additional housing cost ?

    I wonder whether there might be some sort of judicial review of this action against civillians ?

    Can it be legal that the “minimum required to live on” is suddenly rendered “more than enough” by a revenue raising scheme by the government ?

    1. Christopher says:

      My sentiments exactly Colin. There should be some way we can stop these bastards through the legal system.. If not w t f is the law there for?? ((and yes before anyone says ”the rich and the elite” that thought crossed my mind as I was writing..))

  5. Christopher says:

    Here’s a copy of a letter I sent my MP;

    Dear Mr Field, I often wonder if you Politicians actually understand how daft your logic is when it comes to making decisions on policy. For example the ‘Bedroom

    I can understand someone who’s living alone in a 3 or 4 bedroom house or bigger getting classed as ‘Under-Occupying’, but placing people in this category who live
    alone in, lets face it, the bog standard average 2 up 2 down terraced house and are unlucky enough to need to claim benefit is just another example of the
    Government picking on and kicking the poorest in society because we are easy targets. The same poor by the way they all pledged before the election to look after.

    The housing stock is so low in this country because of Government policy, not because of people like me. Yet once again it’s people like me who can least afford it
    who are expected to pay to get them out of the mess they created. There are thousands of empty houses out there that could easily be refurbished, yet they are left
    in ruin. Just as there are plenty of areas where new affordable housing could be built. But I guess like most things where Ministers are concerned they can’t see
    what’s right under their noses. Or more to the point they simply choose to ignore it which is worse.

    Because of this immoral tax that you and the rest of your privileged colleagues in Parliament have allowed to go through, either by being in favour of it or by not
    fighting hard enough against it, I and many thousands like me who can barely afford to heat our homes and buy food are going to be taxed an extra £10+ or more per
    week. Tell me, if you can, how are we meant to afford this?

    The other options are taking in a lodger, finding work, moving home or refusing to pay and getting evicted. Do you lot not understand there are very few, if any, one
    bedroom properties available? And even if you find any the majority are as much as £50+ per week more expensive than the property that’s being occupied at
    present thereby costing more in housing benefit. That in anybody’s language is insane.

    A large number like myself are already getting royally screwed by the changes in benefits which, in a vast number of cases if DWP get their way, equates to a
    huge reduction in income. It’s immoral and it’s obscene, especially when you take into account the uber-rich either not paying tax by nefarious means or being given
    a massive tax reduction.

    As the Tsar for Poverty how can you not be screaming from the rooftops of Westminster that this is wrong?

    I politely suggest you have a word with your fellow MP’s, from all sides, and tell them that we, the downtrodden underclass have very long memories and come the
    revolution we won’t forget who stood up for us and who was just looking after their own interests.

      1. Christopher says:

        I came to that conclusion when I found out he was giving Thatcher one while Dennis was doing the dishes.. ;-p


    What we require is some of the hackers that freely gave information to Wikileaks, to hack into the DWP and ATOS central computer systems and remove irrefutable information.
    This is a conspiracy that needs uncovering. Anti Terrorism laws should be used against a state that terrorises its own people and leads to untimely deaths.
    “We are all in this together”, What a crock of shit…….

  7. karen says:

    How many people have looked after thier homes decorated, looked after the garden for many years to be forced out of their homes. Secondhand shops will do well with people having to part with furniture they can not keep. while the M Ps heartless, access to more than one home and expenses.

  8. Tracy Collins says:


    Dear Dave,

    I would like to remind you of something.

    Your speech on April 27th 2010.

    You said: ” Let’s mend our broken society.”

    You said: ” I know I’ve been criticized for saying our society is broken and I know I will again.”

    You said: “Something is broken. Society is broken.

    The broken society is not one thing alone.

    It is not just the crime.

    It is a whole stew of violence, anti-social behaviour, debt, addiction, family breakdown, educational failure, poverty and despair.

    This is life – or the backdrop of life – for millions of people in this country.

    So how should we respond?

    The first response – the human response – is to feel unutterably sad at so much waste.

    Wasted hopes. Wasted potential. Wasted lives.

    But sadness and anger aren’t going to change anything on their own.

    Mending the broken society needs head as well as heart.”

    You said: “There is, I believe, only one way out of this national crisis – and that is what I have called the Big Society.

    A society where we see social responsibility, not state control, as the principal driving force for social progress.

    A society where we come together, and work together, to solve problems.

    A society where we remember every day that we’re all in this together.

    And today, I want to make the case for the values that should drive the creation of the Big Society – and the policy agenda that flows from those values.

    It requires, I believe, drawing on the deepest values of Conservatism, giving power to people not the state, strengthening families, encouraging responsibility, common sense and rigour, and applying these values to the key aims of improving the lives of people in our country – especially the very poorest”.

    You said: ‘The poorest are getting poorer”.

    You said: “We need to move from big government to the Big Society – a society with personal and collective responsibility right at its heart.

    To set off on this new course, we will be guided by the philosophy of progressive conservatism.

    Progressive – because if the Big Society exists for any reason, it must be to help the most disadvantaged in our country and seek to create a more united and equal place for us all.”

    BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU SAID: “Above all, we will be the most family-friendly Government you’ve ever seen in this country, because I believe that the family is the crucible of responsibility.

    Strong families lead to strong societies.

    It’s as simple as that.

    We are going to do all that we can to support every family – and every kind of family

    Many of our biggest problems start and end with the family – and there can be little progress until we recognise this.”

    So Dave.

    You were right on one thing.

    You will be “criticized for saying our society is broken and I know I will again.”

    Because I am criticizing you now.

    You talked of a broken society and you acknowledged that : “Many of our biggest problems start and end with the family – and there can be little progress until we recognise this.”

    So what do you do, Dave?

    You introduce the bedroom tax, abolish council tax benefit and replace it with local schemes forcing local authorities to clean up your mess, and cap benefit payments even though you acknowledge that: “‘the poorest are getting poorer”.

    How does this fix our broken society, Dave?



    You instruct ATOS to carry out work capacity assessments on your behalf.

    So far, Dave, 7,100 people have died after being placed in groups entitled to unconditional support because they were considered to ill or disabled to work.

    1,300 people have died after being placed in a work related activity group.

    And, 2,200 people have died before their ATOS assessment was even completed.

    And, on average, a further 73 people die every week.

    So, please Dave.


    This is nothing short of the culling of the most desperate and vulnerable members of our society…..I call it : “The Cameron Culling Policy”.

    And it doesn’t end there, does it, Dave?

    How can you claim: “Above all, we will be the most family-friendly Government you’ve ever seen in this country, because I believe that the family is the crucible of responsibility” and then introduce welfare reforms that could see families forced out of their homes?

    Homes where families have been brought up, homes where grand children visit to stay with nanny and grandad for the weekend, homes that people have built up over the years and hold precious memories.

    You even target the homes of those out fighting for your country by demanding bedroom tax whilst they are away- men and women risking their lives fighting for YOUR country.

    Home is where the heart is Dave.

    And you are ripping out what is left of the heart of the already broken society you talk about-and damaging it beyond repair.

    So, yes, Dave.

    Society is broken.

    And YOU broke it.

    Haven’t you worked that one out yet?




Leave a Reply