Rise in Gwent tenants asking for help after ‘bedroom tax’
2:20pm Monday 12th August 2013 in Monmouthshire news
REQUESTS for grants from hard-up tenants have shot up since the advent of the so-called bedroom tax, it has been claimed.
Plaid Cymru says it has uncovered figures that show 9,000 people in Gwent have been hit by cuts to their housing benefit because they are deemed to have too many spare rooms.
The party says it has found that 700 more people in Gwent have applied for payments to help with their rent in April and May of this year than for the whole of the 2012/13 financial year – 1,615 people compared to 909.
The UK Government argues the changes will encourage people to downsize to smaller properties, free up space for others and help cut the overall housing benefit bill.
But Jocelyn Davies, Plaid Cymru’s shadow minister for housing and AM for South Wales East, said the policy was “hitting vulnerable people hard”.
She said: “It is clear that many people have turned to local authorities for top-up help with their housing costs after seeing their benefit cut.”
Labour had “refused to commit to reversing this harmful policy”, the AM claimed.
The Labour-led Welsh Government has recently supplied £20m to social landlords for them to build smaller properties in the wake of the changes.
A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “We have been resolute in our opposition to the bedroomtax, and the truth is that if we were in power now, there’d be no ‘bedroom tax’.
“Desperate and cynical attacks at Labour for a policy being implemented by the Tories and Lib Dems will do Plaid no favours.”
Plaid, which says it obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, said 21 councils across Wales supplied figures showing more than 35,000 homes in the nation were affected.
The figures cover discretionary housing payments , claimed through a council by housing benefits claimants having difficulty paying rent and those whose housing benefit has been cut because of the “bedroom tax”.
Plaid Cymru group leader at Caerphilly council, Clr Colin Mann said: “Many tenants are clearly struggling to make ends meet because of cuts in their housing benefit, with more people applying for discretionary housing benefit in the first two months of 2013/14 than in the whole of the previous year. I expect more and more tenants will be seeking support.”
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