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AUTONOMY
A Scottish newssheet for social change from below
Issue # 1 Summer 2013

whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self -activity of [working class people]

Bedroom Tax: Edinburgh City Council harasses woman out of her home
Edinburgh City Council failed to give Margaret, a tenant with serious disabilities, the exemption from the bedroom tax she was legally entitled to. Despite the fact that the tenant from Muirhouse has an overnight carer who needs to stay every night, her housing benefit was cut and she was harassed to pay up the increased rent. As a result she has become so ill she has had to give up her tenancy. Margaret applied in February for the exemption and receives Disability Living Allowance but the Council never carried out an assessment to check if she was due an exemption. Instead, council officials have been regularly phoning her to demand she pay rent, threatening that she could be evicted if she doesnt pay. Muirhouse anti-bedroom tax group wrote to the Council and visited local Labour Councillor Cammy Day, with Margaret, to insist that she be granted an exemption and that the threatening phone calls be stopped. Margaret explained that due to the stress the Council was putting on her, she was not able to eat or sleep properly. Councillor Day had promised to resolve the situation but has done nothing, and was said to be on holiday when contacted last. Margarets doctor strongly urged her to remove herself from

the situation for the sake of her health. She has therefore given up her tenancy, despite the fact that before her benefit was wrongly cut, she had been happy there. Anticuts groups are now demanding compensation and a full apology. From: northedinburghfightsback.org.uk

The real motive for the Bedroom Tax

Live in Glasgow? Problems with your boss or landlord? Unpaid wages? Letting agency fees? Withheld deposits? Glasgow Solidarity Network could support you through direct action and solidarity.
07842 935713 glasgowsolnet@gmail.com

200,000 people march across Brazil


Egypt, Spain, Greece, Turkey and now Brazil. Mass demonstrations and confrontations with the police are spreading around the world. shocked by the scale of the protests that occurred in So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. People are angry at the rising cost of transport, but also because of the extremes of poverty and On 17th June, Brazil- wealth that exist in the ian authorities were country. Sound familiar?

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The real motive for the Bedroom Tax


There has been widespread opposition to the bedroom tax since it was announced last year. Many diverse sections of society have opposed the legislation, from disability rights activists to politicians, from community campaigners to local councils. But this opposition hasnt taken on a uniform nature. Some condemn it on practical grounds, complaining it wont work for a variety of reasons and urging the Government to rethink its proposals. While these complaints may not be inaccurate, focusing only on them hides the motives behind it. These practical objections boil down to the same issue: the Government hasnt thought through the proposal and as a result it will cause significant problems for those affected by it. Many have argued that the savings the Government claims it will make are totally false and that it will in fact cost more to implement the policy than it would have done to preserve the status quo. This certainly appears to be true. The charity Shelter estimates that the average cost of each eviction will be around 8,000 while Government figures claim there will be an average saving of 728 per household, meaning that over 90% of those affected by the bedroom tax would have to avoid eviction in order for any immediate savings to be made at all. The Scottish Governments own impact assessment survey found that this is unlikely to be the case. They estimate that half of all households affected by the bedroom tax will be able to keep up their rent payments and of the half that dont 1 in 4 will be evicted. Even if we accept these optimistic predictions it still burdens local councils with more expenses than they are going to save, making the cost argument redundant. All this is before we factor in the extra ongoing cost to the housing bill as a result of those who cant pay moving to the private sector where rents are higher but can still be claimed in housing benefit, something which is likely to be a massive drain on the public purse for years to come. justification for the bedroom tax is so flawed that anybody with a basic primary education could tell you that its stated aims wont be achieved. Not enough one-bed properties; more expensive both in the short and long term. But the real motive here is not cost nor the more efficient use of social housing stock; its the continued strengthening of the private housing sector at the expense of social housing. In 1979 42% of the population lived in council housing

Another common By 2008, this had been slashed to objection is the lack 12% by the right to buy scheme of available one and the abandonment of any new bedroom social council properties being built. housing for affected tenants to relocate to. Another The aim? To dismantle social very valid point. Back in the days housing and turn Britain into a when social housing was still being nation of homeowners, a vision built on something approaching a which hasnt disappeared. So while reasonable level local authorities some of the most vulnerable people quite sensibly didnt build many in our society are being turned one bedroom properties, instead from their homes in the name of building larger houses which were cost efficiency and fairness the more suitable for the changing Government has recently anneeds of tenants as they grew oldnounced interest free loans of up to er and perhaps wished to start a 120,000 for those family or needlooking to buy a proped somebody to erty, even for a second The aim? To dismantle social look after them home. How can they in their old age. then argue that the housing and turn Britain into a The legacy of bedroom tax is about nation of homeowners, a vision this is a shortsaving money? It isage of the type nt; its about changwhich hasnt disappeared. of one bedroom ing the way we look at social houses housing, from somewhich the Govthing which is a universal right for ernment wishes those with a spare all of us, rich or poor, to something room to move to, for example in that were only entitled to if we North Lanarkshire where there stump up the necessary cash; are 33,000 local authority properchanging the way we treat the ties of which only 28 are single most vulnerable members of our bedroom ones. society, from caring for them and So where will those who cant afford to stay in social housing move to? The private sectorwhich brings us to the real motive behind the bedroom tax. The cabinet may not be full of nice people but it certainly isnt made up of stupid ones either. The logic behind the official providing them safe, affordable homes to tossing them out on the streets or into the hands of slum landlords and letting them fend for themselves. Ultimately it is about changing the way we view society as a whole and getting rid of any sort of com-

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munity responsibility and solidarity in favour of the notion that you are only worth what your bank balance can buy you. Its about fostering the mentality that, in the words of Thatcher herself, there is no such thing as society anymore.

So there are practical objections to the bedroom tax which are clearly relevant but to make them the focus of our fight against it is to misunderstand what we are campaigning against. This isnt a case of the plan being ill thought out; its a case of the plan being very well thought out and part of a much broader attack on social housing which has been going on for years. We need to fight against the very notion of the bedroom tax rather than the way its implemented, otherwise the larger battle for our communities and the people in them will already be lost.

Appeal against the decision. If you have disabilities and have an overnight carer stay, then you have a strong case. If you are not in this position, we think it a good idea to appeal anyway you may not have much chance of winning the appeal, but it all helps put a spanner in the works and make the tax unworkable. Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. Forms obtainable from your Council. Best to get advice on filling in form, you need to detail all reasons you cannot move and give full info on any illnesses/ disabilities. Join with people in your community to resist. Through local community resistance we can build up the power to stop any evictions.
For more information, go to: edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/96

Are you directly affected by the Bedroom Tax?


Here are some things Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty advises people to do:

Brighton refuse workers strike against massive cuts


ed for industrial action The strike is said to be really strong and has the support of other workers, and folk in generaldespite the usual grumbles about rubbish piling up. If an agreement isnt reached they will return on 21st June, on work-to-rule. Then another five day-long strike will start on 24th June. In recent developments, Caroline Lucas has been reported to have been out picking up rubbish and apparently oblivious that this type of action undermines the strike. The striking bin men have put out a statement that community cleanups are the opposite of being supportive. If you would like to support us, the best thing you can do is to support us in our action - which means not carrying out the work that we would normally do. Show your solidarity and donate to the strike fund! Search for We support the Brighton bin men strike! on facebook.

Around 300 Cityclean bin workers began a week-long strike in Brighton on 14th June in response to the local councils plans to cut staff pay. Staff will lose on average 1,000 but some people will lose 4,000 per year from their salary. If that isnt shocking enough this was voted through by a Green Party-led council. The Greens had previously pledged that they would oppose any cut to pay, and their only MP, Caroline Lucas said she would support workers if they go on strike. The refuse workers are members of the GMB union and took part in a two-day occupation of their canteen last month. 96% of the members vot-

Upcoming Events
19th June: IWW Public Meeting in Glasgow. An introduction to the radical union. From 7pm. Glasgow Unitarians, 72 Berkeley Street, G3 7DS. 22nd June: IWW Public Meeting in Inverness. 11am-12.30 in Room 5, Spectrum Centre. https://www.facebook.com/ events/602385219785589/ 29th June: Rally & Music: End destitution, stand up for the rights of asylum seekers! Glasgow, St Enochs Square from 12.30pm. 29th June: Scotland united against the Bedroom Tax conference, at Meadbowbank Stadium, Edinburgh from 10am-2.30pm. stucantibedroomtax.eventbrite.co.uk 30th June: Marxs Capital reading group starts in Edinburgh. For more information, email marx@edinburghanarchists.noflag.org.uk. 1st July: Application deadline for Camcorder Guerrillas training for grassroots campaigns on how to make short films on their organizing. Contact: info@camcorderguerillas.net 23rd August: ACE/ECAP benefit gig at the Leith Dockers Club with Twisted Nerve headlining.

For regular updates on events in Glasgow, subscribe to: glasgowautonomyupdates@lists.riseup.net

Housing
Glasgow Solidarity Network
glasgowsolnet.wordpress.com

Asylum
Unity Centre Glasgow
unitycentreglasgow.org/

Get involved
Disability rights
Black Triangle
blacktrianglecampaign.org

Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group


eptag.org.uk

Feminism
Glasgow Feminist Collective
Search on facebook!

Crutch Collective
thecrutchcollective.blogspot.co.uk/

Work
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
iwwscotland.wordpress.com

Social Centres
Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh
autonomous.org.uk

Anti-cuts & Bedroom Tax


Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Alliance
edinburghagainstcuts.org.uk/

Welfare
Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty
edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk

Glasgow Social Centre


glasgowsocialcentre.blogspot.co.uk/

No2BedroomTax Campaign
no2bedroomtax.co.uk/

Autonomy is produced by
Anarchist Federation (AFed) Scotland. It aims to promote and link together campaigns that empower working class people and that challenge capitalism and irrational systems of power. We want to report on positive, inspirational examples of struggle but also stories which motivate us to act. We will emphasize things happening in Scotland and also point out things happening in Britain, and around the world.

The Anarchist Federation stands for organising for social change through solidarity, direct democracy and direct action. We have groups and members across Scotland including Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Contact us: scotland@afed.org.uk Or check out: afed.org.uk/scotland glasgowanarchists.wordpress.com edinburghanarchists.noflag.org.uk

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