Number of households seeking help to deal with ‘Bedroom Tax’ soars

Carmarthenshire saw 63% rise in applications for help in just two months

‘Carmarthenshire is being hit by the Bedroom Tax’.  That was the message from local Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards as figures revealed by Plaid Cymru show Carmarthenshire saw a 63 per cent increase in requests for discretionary housing payment in the first two months of the bedroom tax policy having been introduced.

 
Bedroom Tax - Evening Post
 

Local authorities are given a pot of money each year to help those who qualify for housing or council tax benefit, but are having trouble paying their rent or council tax. This is known as the discretionary housing payment. The council decides who should be given the payments. When the money for the year runs out, no more payments can be made.

Applications for the payment in Carmarthenshire soared from 327 in the whole of 2012-13, to 534 in April and May 2013 – an increase of 63 per cent in just two months.

Swansea Council received more applications in the first two months of 2013/14 (820 applications) compared to a total of 802 for the whole of 2012/13. 

Neath Port Talbot Council received 536 applications for support between April and June 2013, compared to a total of 561 for the whole of 2012/13.

Figures received from 21 of Wales’s 22 local councils show that more than 35,000 people in Wales have been affected by the UK Government’s bedroom tax.  In Carmarthenshire almost 2,000 (1,988) people have seen changes to their housing benefit entitlement since the policy was introduced.

 

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards, who led a House of Commons debate against the bedroom tax in February this year said it was no coincidence that applications for help have shot up since the introduction of the bedroom tax.  Branding the bedroom tax as a ‘headline-grabbing, ill-thought-out policy that panders to the prejudices of those opposed to any social protection’, Jonathan Edwards went on to say that his party was the only political party in Wales which opposes the policy. 

Constituency colleague Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM, echoed his Plaid Cymru colleague’s comments, and claimed the bedroom tax was a clear division line between Plaid Cymru and Labour in the 2015 Westminster election.

Jonathan Edwards MP said:

“It is no coincidence that applications for discretionary housing payment have shot up since the introduction of housing benefit changes.  There is no doubt about it: Carmarthenshire is being hit by the bedroom tax.

“It is nothing but a headline-grabbing, ill-thought-out policy that panders to the prejudices of those opposed to any social protection, and has failed on its own terms.  The cost of housing benefit continues to rise, but only Plaid Cymru is willing to oppose the policy.
 
“There are far better ways to control the housing benefit bills. 
 
“Since being elected I have consistently called for legislation to cap rental costs.  This would give the government direct control to drive down artificially high costs, save on the housing benefit bill and most importantly, it would not unjustifiably impact the most vulnerable who are not to blame for the financial failures of successive Westminster governments.

“Plaid Cymru rejects the politics of austerity and rejects the continuous attacks on the poorest in society.  The bedroom tax is not welcome in Carmarthenshire and for as long as I am a Member of Parliament I will continue to oppose it.”

 

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas added:

“The bedroom tax is a clear division line between Plaid Cymru and Labour in the 2015 Westminster election.

“Throughout our constituency people are asking why the Labour party has again promised to stick to Tory spending plans should it form a government after the election.  Labour leader, Edward Miliband has confirmed he would not reverse the bedroom tax if he is the Prime Minister in 2015.

“Some of the county’s most vulnerable residents are being hit, and are being hit hard by the bedroom tax.  Plaid Cymru is the only political party in Carmarthenshire that is willing to stand up, reject the policy and fight tooth and nail to oppose it.”

ENDS

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