Bedroom tax protesters camp out in city centre

About 25 people made their voices heard in Plymouth at the sleepout protest.  Activists camped outside the Civic Centre on Saturday night to spread their message.

"Over 700 residents of Plymouth have already applied to downsize their home, as a means to escape the bedroom tax that they cannot afford.

"There are also many disabled residents that will be forced into greater poverty caused by the bedroom tax.

"We have seen people hit hard and it is totally unnecessary. It's punishing the poor, who have seen a reduction in income yet a rise in living costs that they cannot afford.

"People are now having to choose whether to pay for food, pay for rent, or to heat their house."

He said the welfare changes, which have seen people with unused bedrooms take a benefits hit, were affecting "our most vulnerable members of society and causing extreme anguish".

Father-of-two Neil Stout, from Ivybridge, said he was being affected by the benefits cuts – and now faces eviction and homelessness.

"I can't afford £12 a month when I only get £65 a week," the 49-year-old said.

"Now I have arrears of over £500 so the housing association has served me a notice to repossess my home.

"I don't know what to do. I'm being threatened with eviction and homelessness.

"I've lived there for 12 years and always been a responsible tenant.

"The economy is flat-lining, there's no shops open and no jobs. What am I supposed to do? I want to work but what is there?"

PABC is now preparing for further public events.

There will be a Plymouth Against Benefit Cuts public meeting on Wednesday, September 4, at 7pm at the Plymouth Social Club.

That will be followed by a lobby of Plymouth City Council on Monday, September 16, from 1.30pm and a demonstration outside Plymouth Magistrates' Court from 1.30pm on Friday, September 20.