The new UK Housing Minister Grant Sharps has agreed that the current housing subsidy system that sees Wrecsam Council having to hand over £11.2 million every year to the UK Treasury is unfair.
Plaid Cymru councillors in Wrecsam have consistently blasted the current system, which forces Welsh councils to hand over millions of pounds every year to subsidise councils in Manchester and London boroughs.
Queensway Councillor Carrie Harper said: "The current system is quite simply outrageous. Councils in Wales are forced to hand over £80m from their housing revenue accounts - money that's needed for the maintenance of our housing stock. This is money from Welsh council tenants' rents, yet it is syphoned off to Westminster and redistributed to London boroughs. How can this possibly be right?
"This is money we desperately need to upgrade our own local homes. Much of our council stock needs new kitchens and bathrooms but we are unable to provide these, in part because of this unfair system. I'm pleased to hear that finally Westminster is heeding Plaid Cymru's calls to urgently reform the system. I very much hope the new UK Housing Minister will be true to his word regarding this matter and review the situation as a matter of urgency."
Plaid's Caernarfon East and Dinefwr MP Jonathon Edwards yesterday raised the matter in the House of Commons and the new Housing Minister Grant Sharps gave the following response:
"Mr Edwards is absolutely right that there are numerous problems with how the housing revenue account operates at the moment, in England as well as in Wales. The simplest answer that I can give him is that I agree, and we will continue the review."
Whitegate Councillor Marc Jones, who has also voiced strong concerns in the past, said: "Welsh councils are forced to give Westminster more than £80 million every year, with Wrecsam and Cardiff councils losing out more than any others. Plaid is the only party locally that has voiced its concerns about this situation and we will continue to fight to make sure this issue is at the top of the agenda both in the Assembly and in London."
"A review of the system is overdue. It doesn't apply in Scotland, so why is Wales having to subsidise relatively wealthy councils in England? The Housing Minister's comments yesterday give some hope that the London-based parties are finally taking our concerns seriously. Hopefully they will now ensure Wales gets a fair deal and our council tenants here in Wrecsam will rightly reap the benefits."
UPDATE: Today's Leader carries a very small item on this.