100,000 households in Wales received letters informing them that they would have to contribute to their council tax bills from April 2013, but were not contacted after the Welsh Labour Government’s U-turn, Welsh Conservatives revealed today.
In January 2013, the Welsh Labour Government changed its council tax support threshold from 90% to 100%. At the time, Welsh Conservatives raised concerns that the eleventh hour decision didn’t give local authorities sufficient time to effectively implement the policy.
In Cardiff, when the Welsh Government stated that council tax support would be 90%, the Council wrote to 37,790 households to inform them of their responsibility to contribute towards the cost of their council tax. Following the U-turn, no direct mailing was sent to inform households of the new arrangements.
Households in Bridgend, Carmarthenshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot and the Vale of Glamorgan were similarly affected.
Welsh Conservatives have raised concerns that thousands of vulnerable and hard-pressed families may be needlessly expecting to contribute towards their council tax bills.
Andrew RT Davies AM, Leader of the Opposition, today challenged the First Minister over the revelations during their weekly exchange at First Minister’s Questions.
Andrew RT Davies said, “These revelations show how Labour’s lazy attitude and dithering has resulted in uncertainty for 100,000 vulnerable and hard-pressed households.
“Many families, who have been forced to tighten their belts are now unable to effectively manage their household budget for the coming year because they are expecting to have to contribute towards their council tax bill.
“Labour’s management of the council tax benefit issue has been a fiasco from start to finish. Their original proposals were brought forward far too late, Welsh Ministers tried to force them through without scrutiny and then weeks later they performed a U-turn.
“Labour Ministers disgracefully chose to play politics, cynically putting the benefits of thousands of families at risk.
“Now tens of thousands of households are in the terrible position of not knowing whether they have to contribute to their council tax bills or not.
“Some local authorities have incurred huge expenditure in informing householders about Labour’s U-turn because Carwyn Jones’ failing Labour Government got it wrong.”
Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Shadow Minister for Local Government, said, “While local authorities clearly have a responsibility to inform households of the Welsh Government’s U-turn and its implications, they have been put in an impossible situation.
“Welsh Ministers must intervene and support local authorities in tackling the misinformation and confusion that has been caused by Labour’s lazy sloppy approach to delivery.”