Thursday, 17 January 2013

Plaid pressure forces Labour U-turn on Council Tax Benefits

In a week where many people have lost their jobs or face an uncertain future at high street chains like Blockbuster, Jessops and HMV, this help for those on benefits will be very welcome. It's a shame it took Labour so long...

 Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM has welcomed a last minute U-turn from the Welsh Government on funding the gap in Council Tax Benefits.
 Ms Wood pointed to the sustained pressure that the First Minister has come under from Plaid Cymru since April last year when the party first called for action to protect pensioners and other claimants from cuts to Council Tax Benefits. 
While welcoming the climb-down from the government Leanne expressed disappointment that it had taken so long for the decision to be reached during which time many claimants in Wales would have been worried about facing the prospect in a cut to their household budget. 
Plaid Cymru Leader, Leanne Wood AM, said:
“This U turn from the government is a victory for all those who joined with Plaid Cymru to campaign against the cuts to Council Tax Benefits. It is welcome news that the First Minister has finally bowed to sustained pressure from Plaid Cymru and has agreed to fund the gap that would have caused the cuts.  Plaid Cymru has long argued that action should be taken to protect people, many of them pensioners, from these cuts.  Rhodri Glyn Thomas, who speaks for the Party of Wales on these matters, first called for action back in April last year, it is frankly inexplicable that the government had refused to listen to our calls until now.  It has been a very worrying time for the people across Wales who have been faced with the prospect of a cut to their household budget. 
“Last week I challenged the First Minister on this issue during Questions in the Senedd.  I reminded him of his promise to the Welsh electorate that he would stand up for them against the UK government’s cuts.  I warned him that by failing to fund the gap in Council Tax Benefit he was singularly failing in his one chance to live up to his word.  By failing to fund the gap in Council Tax Benefit he would be failing to protect a quarter of a million households in Wales from cuts. 
“As the SNP government has done in Scotland, a Plaid Cymru government would have planned from the start to fund this gap, thereby protecting people from the cut to Council Tax Benefit.  It is welcome news today that the government has finally decided to adopt our policy of funding the gap although it is disappointing that it took them so long to listen to our calls.  It must have seemed like a very long time indeed for many of the people who were facing these cuts in households where every single penny counts.”

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