Check out our flickr page here for more photos of the occupation.
This afternoon Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth paid a visit to Lambeth Town Hall and made themselves at home. Transforming the council’s lobby into a bedroom we wanted to turn the tables on the council who are insisting that Djina’s living room is a bedroom and have been charging her for the bedroom tax. How do they like it when we tell them their lobby is a bedroom? Not very nice, huh? Clearly NOT a bedroom! Definitely still a lobby.
The council’s insistence that Djina’s living room is a bedroom sees them taking this to tribunal on May 16th. Why are Lambeth council going to such lengths to charge Djina the bedroom tax for her living room? Their actions have threatened her with debt and homelessness. Djina says that the whole experience has left her feeling very distressed.
With chants of “Djina’s living room is not a bedroom” our group of about 20 people occupied the lobby for 2 hours demanding to speak with someone about the situation and have it resolved immediately. At one point, the staff called the police to our sleep-in but they left after about ten minutes of hanging about and unsuccessfully trying to get Djina’s details. Eventually, we were given a meeting with the housing officer dealing with Djina’s case and the housing benefits manager both whom stated that the tribunal was the only way to settle the issue. We challenged this, suggesting that they had over a year in which to visit Djina’s home and take a look at her living room.
Instead of causing more stress and difficulties for Djina, we demand that the council accept that the living room is a living room and stop charging her the bedroom tax. We want a full refund for Djina and apologies for this complete shambles.
Today’s lively and determined collective action has shown Lambeth council that their unjust and harmful processes and decisions are unacceptable and will be challenged. Expect to hear more from us!