Hundreds set to sleep rough outside Islington Town Hall
PUBLISHED: 12:31 15 August 2013
Hundreds of people could be sleeping rough next weekend in protest at the government’s controversial bedroom tax.
The demonstration, dubbed the Mass Sleep Out, is expected to see people of all ages outside Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, from 7pm, on Saturday, August 24, until 9am the following day, in anger at the new levy.
Meanwhile, co-ordinated protest at the same time in front of Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street, is also set to attract a crowd furious with the new cuts.
According to those staging the event, Islington and Hackney will be hit worst than most boroughs by the new rules.
They say the National Housing Federation estimated almost 4,000 people in Islington have been hit – 2,500 of whom are disabled – and each could be forced to find an extra £1,385 per year.
John Glaskin, who is organising the protest, said: “People will be pitching up tents, sleeping in cardboard boxes. Hopefully, it will resonate with the homeless community, because the bedroom tax is definitely going to increase homelessness.
“There is a lot of poverty in Islington, as well an existing housing crisis, so this tax will hit the borough really hard. That’s why it’s a good place for the protest.”
Paul Jarvis, who is helping to arrange the Hackney protest, said: “Over the past few years I have witnessed the gentrification of Hackney and it now has extremes of rich and poor much more similar to Islington. And it faces the same problems with the bedroom tax.
“But as an outreach worker in Islington, I can see how much worse the services are in Hackney. As soon as I cross the borough boundary homeless people start appearing.
“So for those made homeless by the bedroom tax in Hackney, the dangers are possibly even greater, because there is less of a safety net.”
The bedroom tax, which arrived in April, is a reduction in housing benefit aimed at people the government deems to have too much living space – people with one spare room will lose an average of £14 a week, those with two or more £25 a week.
Homes are allowed one bedroom for each adult or couple – children under 16 must share if they are the same gender, and under 10 regardless.
The protest outside the town halls are two of around 60 across the country.
Mr Glaskin said: “What started off as an idea has now captured the hearts, minds and interests of thousands of people across the UK who wish to stand against the cruel measures being imposed by the coalition.”