Bedroom Tax and NHS campaigners lobby tonight’s Tower Hamlets council

Tower Hamlets town hall

Tower Hamlets town hall - Credit: Archant

Protesters are lobbying tonight’s meeting of Tower Hamlets council over the Bedroom Tax and threats to GP surgeries in London’s deprived East End.

Three groups are gathering outside the Town Hall in Mulberry Place, Blackwall, at 6pm to demonstrate against government policy on housing, social welfare and the NHS.

A petition is being handed in by Tower Hamlets Housing Benefits campaign demanding the local authority inform all tenants of their right to claim Discretionary Housing Payments, disabity exemptions, how to appeal on grounds of room size and rooms not used as bedrooms, and to instruct all landlords to do the same.

“We call on all councillors to join us to publicly demand repeal of the Bedroom Tax,” campaigner Andy Lane said. “There are 2,500 households in the East End alone hit by the Bedroom Tax.”

The council has already pledged not to evict families in rent arrears caused by cuts in benefits.

GPs and NHS patients are also turning up at the Town Hall with a petition to save 22 east London surgeries at risk of closing from government budget cuts.

The closures would leave thousands without a GP and the remaining overstretched practices unable to take them on, they fear. Patients would be “forced to turn to busy hospital A&E departments” instead.

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Dr Naomi Beer, from Stepney’s Jubilee Street Practice, said: “The NHS is the envy of other nations and has been there since 1948 for all of us when we need it, regardless of ability to pay, from the cradle to the grave. There is plenty of money to pay for it.”

The Save Our Surgeries campaign was started in May by GPs in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham in response to government changes in the way surgeries are funded.

They are joined at 6pm by campaigners from Tower Hamlets Benefits and Tower Hamlets Renters to lobby councillors going into the council meeting that starts 7.30pm.