Welsh Government U-turn on council tax benefit

Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant says the Welsh Government will after all provide additional help for people facing a cut in their council tax support, following the changes announced by the UK Government. He's giving an extra £22 million to local councils to help with bills this year.

Following changes to the welfare system brought in by the UK Government which included a 10% cut in the amount of funding for Council Tax support, the scheme I published in December would have meant a cut in income for people who could least afford it.This concerned me and my Cabinet colleagues greatly. Since December, the cumulative impact of the UK Government’s raft of changes to welfare benefits has started to become clearer, and we have seen some very disturbing analysis of the cuts.

This was compounded by the recent one percent cap put on benefits by the UK Government which will penalise the vulnerable even more. As a responsible Government, we have held back an element of our reserves as a contingency for unforeseen pressures such as extreme winter weather, pandemics and other emergencies. However, as these pressures pass, and as we approach the end of the financial year, we are now able to safely utilise some of this money to provide this much needed additional support for those eligible for help with their Council Tax.

– Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant AM

The announcement is a major U-turn by the Welsh government, which recalled AMs from their Christmas break to push through new rules that left even the poorest claimants paying some of their council tax. Ministers said they simply weren't in a position to divert money from other projects.

The money will now come from reserves and departmental budgets. The Government says this has become possible as a result of careful financial management. The Finance Minister, Jane Hutt, says the council tax support budget will now return to the level it was before the UK Government made its cuts.