There's a call for local authorities to be given extra money to enable them to give council tax breaks to householders facing financial pressures because of coronavirus.
Plaid Cymru says the Welsh Government should urgently fund councils to enable them to help ease the burden on council tax payers.
The measures would include bringing forward the annual two month payment break for those who pay installments, defer payment for those struggling and increase benefit for those who have to self-isolate or lose work because they have to stay at home.
The Welsh Government says it is already offering support and will offer more. It has announced not just an initial increase in funding of £30m for councils, but also a dedicated funding stream for helping councils cope with the impact of coronavirus.
But Plaid Cymru's local government spokesperson Delyth Jewell says authorities need the money upfront.
Local authorities are on the front line of fighting this virus, they need the confidence that they can invest in the services and support people in need. The only people that can give them that confidence is the Welsh Government. Plaid local authorities want to be able to offer support like council tax holidays now, to the people that need them. We have a plan, we can do more, we just need the Government to step-up. These are unprecedented times, that call for unprecedented measures. Local government is working flat-out to help support our communities and with a little more help, they can do a lot for those in need.
The local government minister Julie James issued a written statement yesterday saying that the Welsh Government and local authority leaders were working closely together and had set up 'clear and regular lines of communication.'
On funding, she said:
I am acting to fund and enable local authorities to act in an effective manner in response to these very challenging circumstances. I am establishing a single emergency funding stream for local authorities to meet the pressures arising from COVID-19. This will enable authorities to meet the additional costs of delivering existing essential services and the additional demands placed on them by new actions and new responsibilities arising from the emergency legislation laid last week by the UK Government.The Welsh Government is making £30m available for this in the first instance. This includes the provision of up to £7m to support local authorities to urgently provide financial assistance to families of pupils who rely on free school meals, but are unable to receive them due to school closures.
There's a further call for help for struggling council tax payers from Citizens Advice in Wales which says the Welsh Government should fund a three month council tax holiday for those who can't afford to make payments.
It also wants local authorities to suspend immediately all enforcement action for those in council tax arrears.
Citizens Advice says the Welsh Government should be prepared to cover the losses that councils will face as a result of doing that.