A statement from Bob Taylor OF Knowsley Housing Trust.
"I was fortunate to meet a group of anti-bedroom tax and welfare cuts protesters we had invited to our KHT offices on 25th April 2013. The group included tenants and others affected by the bedroom tax, council tax and other changes such as rising fuel and food prices.
Our meeting was positive but a real cry for help from people terrified for how friends, family and those they care for will cope with the cuts and bedroom tax and how it has taken away any hope for the decent life they aspire to.
I have said this before but will say again that the bedroom tax cannot in any shape or form be right. To reduce payments for people who have already been assessed as in need – and in areas where jobs are in short supply – just makes no sense at all. Suddenly thousands of people are being asked to find upwards of £15-20 per week and over £30 per week for many more – just where can this come from?
KHT has over 3,000 homes (around 7,000 people) affected by the bedroom tax alone and when council tax and other changes are taken into account that figure is much higher. We are already hearing that as people with no other sources of income try to come to terms with the enormity of what’s happening they are struggling to eat let alone deal with how they are going to keep the roof over their head.
Thousands of people are desperately worried and at their wits’ end with how to pay their rent, how to eat and how to live. The human and social costs are significant. There will be a huge strain on health services and organisations striving to provide support. Significant numbers of people are already resorting to food banks and other means to survive.
When you combine that with Knowsley (and most other areas of the North) being hit with the highest government cuts per head of working age population in the country, at £800 per head, the economic and social costs are immense.
If we all truly believe that it is the right of every individual to have a decent home, decent food and a decent life, sucking the life out of places like Knowsley through all these cuts is not just wrong but immoral. It’s not good for people, it’s certainly not good for businesses and in the absence of any economic stimulus the future is indeed bleak.
What people on the lowest incomes, in the most unfortunate positions in life need is hope and not to be characterised as spongers or scroungers, insulting phrases which do not apply to the vast majority of the millions of people affected by these policies.
The key point for me is HOPE. If we do not give people a feeling that there is hope – hope to get a job, hope that society cares about people who, through no fault of their own, can’t work, hope to live a decent life, hope to be able to feed themselves and their families – then what is left?
My call to anyone who has influence over the Government and policymakers and can understand the simple mechanics, if not the human cost, of what I and all at KHT are starting to witness is that it’s not too late to put it right. It’s not too late to recognise what is going to happen and to do something now to stop it.
If you agree and feel as strongly as us, write to your local MP, to Mark Prisk the Housing Minister or your local newspaper telling them how you feel and how it’s affecting you and the community you live in.
At KHT we will be doing much more work over the next few weeks to act on what our tenants, partners and others in our communities are telling us now that the harsh impact of these cuts are being felt in Knowsley .
The old adage – ‘you’ve got to invest to save’ – is something I subscribe to but it doesn’t appear that the Government feels this should apply to Knowsley, Merseyside and the North."
Source: KHT Website