Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Local Government Rhodri Glyn Thomas has this week called for contingency plans to be made for council tax benefit payments ahead of the 2014/15 financial year.
Council tax benefit was transferred to Wales by the UK Government with a 10% funding cut. Although the announcement was made in 2010, the Welsh Government did not make plans for its devolution in time, leading to the National Assembly being recalled as an emergency during its most recent Christmas break.
The Welsh Government eventually made up the 10% funding cut following a sustained campaign by Rhodri Glyn Thomas. This followed similar action taken in Scotland, that Plaid Cymru had welcomed. But the delay in their plans caused significant confusion for council taxpayers across the country.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:
“The National Assembly passed additional regulations last week, legalising the ability of local authorities to detect and deal with fraud. I used the occasion to press the outgoing Minister for assurances that last year’s events will not be repeated. After an emergency recall, the plans for 2013/14 were made, and those plans thankfully ended up representing Plaid Cymru’s policy. However, I have significant concerns about next year. The Minister has written in his regulations that he doesn’t know about next year’s funding levels. A new Minister will now be coming in to deal with council tax benefits as part of the Welsh Government’s reshuffle. The Government needs to make urgent plans based on what is going to be affordable next year. We need to ensure that council taxpayers get the relief they are entitled to, and know what bills are going to hit them well in advance. Last year’s embarrassment must never happen again.”
The UK Government, controlled by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, has a responsibility to inform the Welsh Government of anticipated funding levels for next year’s council tax support payments. Commenting on this, Mr. Thomas added:
“The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats can’t take the moral high ground on this. They landed the Welsh Government with an unfair burden. Of course, the Welsh Government then made things even worse by failing to deal with it. But only Plaid Cymru has a strong track record on standing up for Wales on this issue. We will continue to work hard to ensure that we get a fair deal next year and the people of Wales should be reassured that we’re fighting for their interests.”