A rise in request for help put down to Bedroom Tax by Plaid Cymru
REQUESTS for grants from hard-up tenants have shot up since the advent of the so-called Bedroom Tax, its been claimed.
Plaid Cymru says its uncovered figures that show 9,000 people in Gwent have been hit by cuts to their housing benefit because they are deemed to have too many spare rooms.
The party says it has found that 700 more people in Gwent have applied for payments to help with their rent in April and May of this year than for the whole of the 2012/13 financial year.
The UK Government argues that the changes will encourage people to downsize to smaller properties, free up space for others and help cut the overall housing benefit bill.
But Jocelyn Davies, Plaid Cymru’s shadow minister for housing and AM for South Wales East, said the policy was “hitting vulnerable people hard”.
She said: “It is clear that many people have turned to local authorities for top-up help with their housing costs after seeing their benefit cut.”
Labour had “refused to commit to reversing this harmful policy," the AM claimed.
The Labour-led Welsh Government has recently supplied £20 million to social landlords for them to build smaller properties in the wake of the changes.
Plaid, which says it has obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, said 21 councils across Wales supplied figures showing more than 35,000 homes in Wales were affected.
The figures cover discretionary housing payments (DHPs), which can be claimed through a council by housing benefits claimants having difficulty paying rent.
DHP payments may be available to people if their housing benefit has been cut because of the bedroom tax.
Plaid Cymru group leader of Caerphilly council Councillor Colin Mann said: “Many tenants are clearly struggling to make ends meet because of cuts in their housing benefit with more people applying for discretionary housing benefit in the first two months of 2013-14 than in the whole of the previous year. I expect more and more tenants will be seeking support.”
ACCORDING to figures obtained by Plaid Cymru, 276 people applied to Caerphilly council for discretionary housing payments (DHP) to help them pay their rent in 2012/13, while in April to May this year, 390 people applied.
In Blaenau Gwent, 1,595 people are affected with 185 people applying for DHP in 2012/13, compared to 295 in April to May this year.
In Monmouthshire, 692 people are affected and 57 asked for help last year. In April to May this year 266 people requested DHP.
Newport saw a drop in the number of people claiming DHP. In the city 2,476 people are affected, and 290 people asked for help in 2012/13. In April to May this year, only 142 people applied.
In Torfaen, where 1,500 people are said to be affected by the UK Government's spare bedroom subsidy (or 'bedroom tax'), 101 people applied for help in 2012/13 compared to 522 in April to May this year.
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