Falkirk victims of benefit cuts urged to speak out

A new poster is being distributed by Falkirk Council offering housing advice
A new poster is being distributed by Falkirk Council offering housing advice

It pays to talk, that’s the message being sent out to anyone in the Falkirk area affected now or in the future by government benefit cuts.

As steps continue to unite opposition to the bedroom tax and other benefit changes, Falkirk councillors stressed the need for tenants to engage with them as the cuts bite.

Speaking last week at a public meeting organised by Falkirk Trades Union Council to kick-start an anti-cuts campaign, Councillor Linda Gow warned that councils’ hands had been tied when it came to dealing with rent arrears - with eviction being the ultimate sanction.

But she insisted Falkirk Council would not evict any tenant who had built up arrears as a result of the controversial bedroom tax as long as they engaged with council officials in tackling arrears.

Fiona McHardy from the Poverty Alliance and STUC assistant secretary Helen Martin told last Thursday’s public meeting about the effects benefit changes were having on people across the country ... and warned that worse is to come, with child benefit and independent living allowance changes both expected to hit the poor hard.

Councillor Gow hit back at criticism of the council’s stance, pointing out any non-payment campaign would deny cash to vital projects, with rental income ringfenced for house building and repairs.

She also said that, prior to the first cuts being implemented, welfare rights workers had visited every tenant under threat to review their benefits, with many put on the road to get help.

Nearly eight out of ten tenants are now covered with an additional 11 welfare advisers drafted in to help people affected by cuts.

Falkirk Trades Union Council will discuss the next steps in the campaign when it meets at Camelon Community Education Centre at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26. This is open to anyone interested.