by New Worker correspondent
THOUSANDS of protesters turned out in freezing cold in all major cities throughout Britain last Saturday to show opposition to the iniquitous bedroom tax, which came into force on Monday.
Many are predicting it will become as disastrous to the Cameron government as the poll tax was for Margaret Thatcher.
Many of the protesters were directly affected and spoke movingly of their desperation at being unable to move to smaller accommodation in order to avoid having their housing benefit cut for the sin of being deemed to have a spare room – and yet totally unable to meet the steep rise in the rent they must pay.
The spectre of eviction now haunts many families but they are not going to go quietly.
Two thirds of those affected have a disabled family member who needs a specially adapted room or cannot share with siblings.
In London protesters matched from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street, where they staged a two-hour sit down, blocking traffic in Whitehall.
They were supported by Unite the union and the Occupy movement.
All speakers agreed the tax made no economic sense at all but was simply evidence of spite and cruelty against the poor and the disabled.
The Government came under new fire over benefit cuts last night as the independent body representing 1,200 English housing associations described the bedroom tax as bad policy and bad economics that risks pushing up the £23 billion annual housing benefit bill.
There are a growing number of instances of tenants who have sought to move to smaller accommodation. For most no such alternative homes are available.
But for the few who have managed to get a smaller place, it has generally involved moving from council or housing association accommodation to the private sector, where rents are many times higher and so their need for housing benefit has risen markedly.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the tax would harm the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It came into force this week alongside a range of other tax and benefit changes.
"The bedroom tax is one of these once-in-a-generation decisions that is wrong in every respect," he said. "It's bad policy, it's bad economics, it's bad for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people whose lives will be made difficult for no benefit – and I think it's about to become profoundly bad politics."
The tax will hit 660,000 households with each losing an estimated average of £14 a week.
Unite pledged that its members and community activists would continue the protests in the coming weeks against the “tax” whose architect is the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The inconvenient truth that Iain Duncan Smith is avoiding is that 650,000 families across the UK are suffering sleepless nights because of this government’s ill-conceived plans to drive them from their homes and push them deeper into financial misery.
“This is Tory-led social engineering on a massive scale.”