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Protestors in Weymouth ready to do battle over controversial welfare reform
PROTESTORS in Weymouth are set to turn out in force against a controversial welfare reform.
They will gather at the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Offices at North Quay to voice their opposition against the bedroom tax on March 15.
The reform, also known as the under-occupancy penalty, is due to come into effect in April and will cut the amount of benefit people are entitled to if they are considered to have a spare bedroom in their council or housing association home.
Organiser Michael McManus said the tax will affect many people in Weymouth.
He said: “I don’t think people realise how many types of families this will affect.
“The disgusting thing about it is that it will affect foster carers.
“These are people who are just trying to help, it’s disgraceful.”
A Facebook group set up by Mr McManus has attracted almost 300 supporters in the first two days of being online.
The protest is part of larger marches in cities across the country against the tax, which are taking place on March 30.
The protest will be held from 12pm to 2pm on March 15.
Mr McManus said: “It is as much about raising awareness that this tax will be imposed as protesting against it.
“A lot of people don’t realise this is going on, so it’s important to spread the word.”
He added that he hopes to see up to 200 people at the protest.
He said: “I would like it to be as many people as possible, though the emphasis of course is that it is going to be a peaceful protest where we are voicing our concerns.
“Some people have contacted me saying they are very worried about how they are going to cope financially after this comes in. It’s very upsetting.”
Mr McManus said he is not affected personally by the policy, but many of his immediate family and friends will be.
“They are targeting vulnerable people, those who are disabled or recovering from illness.
“Some people find it difficult to stand up for themselves, so it’s important that we all speak out about it.”
For more information about the protest, search Dorset Bedroom Tax on Facebook.
Policy part of welfare reform
THE bedroom tax policy is part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
It will restrict housing benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple, with the exception of children under 16, who are expected to share, and where there is an overnight carer for a disabled person, who will be allowed an extra bedroom.
The change has been highly criticised by the Labour Party, but the Coalition Government believes the policy will create a fairer approach to benefits.
According to the National Housing Federation, the cut to housing benefit will be 14 per cent for one extra bedroom and 25 per cent for two or more extra bedrooms, and those affected are expected to lose around £15 per week.
In Weymouth, a two-bedroom Synergy property is rented at an average of £87.59 per week, with a three-bedroom averaging £94.49 per week.