Norwich protest over ‘bedroom tax’

Campaigners protest on the steps of City Hall about welfare reforms they say will hit the vulnerable

Campaigners protest on the steps of City Hall about welfare reforms they say will hit the vulnerable. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners who say welfare reforms will hit some of the county's most vulnerable people staged a protest against the changes in the heart of Norwich today.

As part of a national day of protest against the so-called bedroom tax, dozens of campaigners gathered at City Hall to send a message to the government to think again over the changes.

They held up banners and placards, with slogans such as 'Get Out Of Our Bedrooms', 'No Evictions' and 'Tax Cuts For The Rich - Misery For Disabled People'.

The coalition welfare changes include cutting the housing benefit of social housing tenants deemed to have a spare bedroom, a move that has been dubbed a 'bedroom tax' by Labour.

Council tax benefit, which covers some or all of the cost of the bill for struggling families, will be replaced by a new system that will be run by English local authorities but on 10pc less funding.

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Mark Harrison, chief executive of the Norfolk Coalition For Disabled People, which will next week be rebranding as Equal Lives, was among the protesters.

He said: 'Our protests against the bedroom tax are going to go on until either the government drops it or the government falls.

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'It's not just the bedroom tax, though. The government is abolishing the independent living fund and disability living allowances.

'That's all going to affect disabled people, who the government seems to be trying to force into work. This is affecting the poorest people in the city and people who can least afford to be hit.'

The Norwich Campaign Against The Bedroom Tax Group is inviting people to another protest at the Haymarket in Norwich at 12pm on Saturday, April 13.

The group will also be holding regular public meetings. The next one is at the Vauxhall Centre in Johnson Place, off Chapelfield Road, at 7pm on Wednesday.

Last week, Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett said he feared the welfare reforms could cause hard hit people to turn to crime.

The government says the welfare reforms, including the Universal benefit, which comes into effect this week, will make the benefit system less complex and will improve the lives of some of the poorest families.

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