Plymouth protest against Government's controversial 'bedroom tax'
A PROTEST has been organised against the so-called bedroom tax being introduced by the Government.
The controversial new scheme, being introduced in April, is part of an overhaul of the benefits system.
It means housing association and council tenants will have housing benefits cut if they are deemed to have spare bedrooms in a move designed to free up large housing.
But fears have been raised that the benefits cuts – 14 per cent cut for one spare room and 25 per cent for two – will hit forces' families, whose members may serve abroad for much of the year.
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Suzy Franklin, from Stoke, is one of a group of people organising a protest to take place on Saturday, March 16, at the Sundial in the city centre.
The 49-year-old healthcare assistant said a number of her friends, particularly young families, were affected by the tax.
She said: "[Prime Minister David] Cameron's poll tax is going to affect families up and down the country, particularly young families who are struggling to afford the already expensive rates now.
"We've had a fantastic response. I've been contacted by well over 50 people who want to help run the stall.
"I think we will have a good response on the day and hope to get hundreds of signatures."
Opponents of the tax claim the cut in benefits for those with spare rooms in social housing would hit disabled people who need the extra room, as well as military families.
Earlier this month, city MP Alison Seabeck told the PM how a city mother, who did not want to be named, may not be able to offer her military son "a home, or a bedroom" when he returns from duty under the new rules.
Raising her constituent's case at Prime Minister's Questions, Plymouth Moor View Labour MP Ms Seabeck said: "Is it right that a mother in my constituency may not, because of the Prime Minister's bedroom tax – and as confirmed by his Minister – be able offer her son, serving in Her Majesty's Armed Forces, either a home or a bedroom on his return from duty?"
Responding, Mr Cameron said: "I will happily look at the case she mentions, but our reforms to housing benefit have a clear principle at their heart."
Mr Cameron also stressed the need to deal with a £23billion housing benefit bill.
It is thought pensioners will also be affected by the tax, branded "mean" by campaigners.
Leaked guidance from the Department of Work and Pensions states: "New housing benefit claimants who are mixed-age couples and claiming pension credit will not be exempt when they transfer on to universal credit."
The Plymouth protest will begin at 1pm.