Local MP calls debate on Housing Revenue Scheme

Local MP and Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson Jonathan Edwards has secured a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the Housing Revenue Subsidy Scheme (HRAS) in Wales.

The scheme currently forces Welsh councils to pay back millions each year from their housing budgets to the Treasury.

Mr Edwards, a longstanding critic of the scheme, has called for the debate to address what he describes as a severe injustice. Information gathered by the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP showed that Wales has lost out on over £2bn in cash terms since the scheme was introduced in England and Wales.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have always been exempt. In previous parliamentary questions Mr Edwards has secured concessions from the Housing Minister in Westminster that the present system is unfair.

The system is set to be scrapped in England, something that Mr Edwards believes should be extended to Wales.

Jonathan Edwards MP said:

“This system has stripped Wales of a staggering amount of money for too long. The Tories crippled Wales by placing us in the scheme whilst Scotland and Northern Ireland were excluded. Scandalously, under Labour, absolutely nothing was done to change the system, ensuring that we lost out on £1billion between 1999 and 2010.

“The UK Housing Minister Grant Shapps has admitted to me in parliamentary questions that the system is unfair. The Prime Minister has also stated as much and now the system is to be scrapped in England – leaving Wales alone in having to make these payments.

“There is simply no justification for this set up to continue in Wales alone, specifically targeting our local communities.

“It is taking £100million every year from Welsh Local Authorities which is resulting in a failure to address the real housing problems that exist locally, and is an incentive to stock transfer public housing.

“This money should be invested in our local economies to improve the condition of our housing stock and provide jobs and health benefits.

“In my home county of Carmarthenshire alone £5.7million has been returned for this year and close to £51million since 1999 to 2000.

“This is outrageous, especially when I consider the amount of people that come into my constituency office looking for help with housing.

“For Wales to have to continue to pay HRAS would be a great injustice. I hope that during this debate many Conservative and Lib Dem MPs, not to mention the Labour politicians who have been seemingly sleeping on the job for the past decade, will open their eyes to this disgraceful discrimination.”

ENDS / DIWEDD

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