PROTESTERS of the so-called 'bedroom tax' made their way to Barnsley Magistrates' Court on Tuesday morning.

Having already staged numerous protests, the Barnsley Campaign Against the Bedroom Tax group came together on the same day that one affected person was in court.

George Arthur, one of the group's members, owns his home so isn't directly affected by the tax, but has sympathy for friends who are.

"There's one person in court today and six others this month," he said.

"It's morally reprehensible. We've had over 4,000 people sign our petition but like me, many of those aren't affected, but they've seen the hurt this tax has caused and so they too feel strongly about it."

The group believe the tax is an attack on the poorest people by a government which is made up of some of the richest in the country. 

They're calling on the council to reclassify houses to reduce the number of bedrooms that can be charged for. So far, the council has refused, despite council leader Sir Steve Houghton expressing his sympathy to the group when they presented him with their petition.

Some council tenants have seen their housing benefit cut if they have a spare room, leaving them afraid they will struggle to make ends meet.

Barnsley Trades Council has thrown its weight behind the group's efforts. Dave Gibson, senior vice chairman, said it would lead to more people being pushed into poverty.

He added: "Barnsley Trades Council is committed to campaigning against this.

"That's why we have set up a benefit justice sub-committee. We fully support the anti-bedroom tax stance and are confident the government can be defeated if we mobilise strongly enough."

Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East, said: "The government don't like us calling it a 'bedroom tax', they wan't to call it a 'spare room subsidy' but that's a bit like saying the poll tax was a community charge.

"This is one of the most nasty, cruel things the government has done.

"It's completely incompetent as it's not going to save the government the money it thinks it will. I urge them to rethink and we'll keep the pressure up on the government."

Tenant Susan Moore, 55, from Athersley North, said she cannot afford to pay the extra £9.50 per week for her spare room.

She downsized from a three-bedroom house in June following a kidney transplant.

"I just don't know what's going to happen - I can't afford it. That room gets used every weekend, as I have 21 grandkids."

On a walk round the town centre after the protest, it's clear that the tax is still a big talking point among residents. Sharon Moore, 61, of Dodworth, said she hopes protesters' efforts pay off.

"Obviously it's affecting a lot of people, so they should be able to make their feelings heard," said Sharon, who's not affected by the tax but knows people who are.

"I think the council need to step up. What'll happen if eviction notices are given and people don't have anywhere to go?"

Disagreeing, James Quinn, 33, from Monk Bretton, said: "I own my own home, work hard for it, and if I want another bedroom I'd have to pay thousands more for one if I moved my family to a different house."

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