Sunday, May 11, 2014

Welsh Government letting down tenants on welfare reforms

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have criticised the Welsh Government for letting down tenants on welfare reforms, as only three of the 22 local authorities in Wales applied for extra UK government funding to help mitigate the impact of the spare room subsidy.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats Spokesperson on Social Justice, Peter Black commented:
“The Housing Benefit bill doubled from £11 billion to £22 billion under Labour’s last 10 years of government, which is unaffordable and unsustainable. There are a quarter-of-a-million households living in overcrowded social housing and we subsidise a million spare bedrooms in the social rented sector, so it is clear that the system needs reform.

“Liberal Democrats have consistently worked hard to make sure that changes are made as fairly as possible. We negotiated an extra £30 million per year for the Discretionary Housing Payment fund specifically to help with the removal of the spare room subsidy. We secured exemptions for people in the armed forces, foster carers and disabled children who need their own room. Additional funding was also provided for rural areas, which provided extra support for tenants in Powys, Gwynedd and Ceredigion.

“Sadly tenants in Wales are being let down by the Welsh Labour Government, who are failing to ensure that vulnerable tenants receive the support that has been made available to them through Discretionary Housing Payments.

“Only three of the 22 local authorities in Wales applied for extra UK government funding. Too many tenants are not aware of their right to apply for this support because it is not being properly advertised, tenants simply don’t understand the system or are being forced to jump through unnecessary hoops. Many local councils treat Disability Living Allowance and Child Benefit as a form of income which is also restricting access to this funding.

“Instead of simply bemoaning the welfare reforms, the Welsh Government needs to work with councils to overcome these barriers and help people to get the support and financial assistance they are entitled to. The last thing we want is for this money to be sent back to the Treasury because councils have not been able to spend it where it is needed.”

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