doc

IN JUST over a month thousands of people who live in Gwent and receive housing benefit will be worse off.

Changes to the system brought in by the UK coalition government will mean that those individuals or families who are judged to have too many bedrooms in their homes for their needs will have money taken off them.

Under the scheme, one bedroom is allowed for each adult couple and one for two children of the same sex under 16, two children aged under ten and any other child.

Anyone ‘under-occupying’ their home by one bedroom will see their benefit reduced by 14 per cent which, on a £90 weekly rent, would be £12.60 A WEEK. It rises to 25 per cent or £23.75 A WEEK if a tenant has two or more extra bedrooms.

This is a significant amount of money taken away from needy people each week.

The only alternative people have is to move out of the home they have lived in – perhaps all their lives – to a smaller property if they can find one suitable and in the right location for their needs.

Most of the people affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ are in employment and it will not just affect those in large houses.

Foster parents who keep a spare bedroom for children will be regarded as ‘under-occupying’.

And even parents of children in university who keep their rooms for them will be regarded as ‘under-occupying’.

I have huge sympathy for people affected as someone brought up in a council house in Caerphilly County Borough.

Plaid Cymru is pushing for the Welsh Government to develop an alternative social protection plan for Wales.

● I was disturbed to read that the future of Newport’s medieval ship is uncertain.

I know, as a former local authority leader, how difficult it is to juggle spending when things are tight, as they are now.

But we must recognise our history and protect it for future generations.

Newport council is the custodian of the city and needs to bear that in mind when deciding on the future of the medieval ship.

All towns or cities need something a bit different to act as a catalyst for attracting visitors. And the medieval ship is just that.

We cannot get to a situation where the painstaking restoration ends up being wasted.

The ship must remain in Newport and in public ownership.