£22m for Wales council tax benefit gap is found
9:30pm Thursday 24th January 2013 in Gwent news
PLANS for an extra £22 million to plug a gap in funding for council tax benefit from the Welsh Government – dubbed a U-turn by the opposition – were approved by Assembly members yesterday.
Assembly members convened for a third time in a month to discuss council tax benefit cuts, after the benefit was devolved to the Welsh Government with a ten per cent cut in funding.
Previously officials were planning for 230,000 people in Wales claiming council tax benefit to pay some council tax for the first time, but last week the Welsh Government announced it had found £22 million to cover the shortfall in funding.
Opposition AMs were scathing about how long it had taken the Welsh Government to find the cash.
Assembly members approved the new regulations – which will mean that claimants should not see a change in their entitlement from April.
Janet Finch-Saunders AM, from the opposition Tory group, welcomed the “U-turn” but said it was appalling that it had taken so long to to find the cash. Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas said his party had said it would be possible to provide funding on council tax benefit for at least a year.
He said it was “an opportunity for the government to admit that they have down the back of the sofa £22 million” after saying it was impossible to find the funding.
Carl Sargeant, local government minister, said: “I don’t care what you call it, this will make a big difference to the 330,000 households in Wales.