Caerphilly ‘bedroom tax’ claims rejected

CAERPHILLY’S Labour group has reacted angrily to claims the council is failing to help victims of the controversial bedroom tax.

Its councillors has rejected what they call "untrue and unfair" claims by the Caerphilly Against the Bedroom Tax pressure group that Caerphilly council was not doing enough to help tenants facing increased costs.

A protest was held in Caerphilly on March 29, which was arranged by the pressure group, with campaigners calling for the bedroom tax to be scrapped.

But Gerald Jones, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for housing, said: “We have taken on four extra, dedicated tenancy support officers to help tenants affected by the bedroom tax. They offer face-to-face support to tenants in their own homes, with guidance on finding more suitable homes, benefits, budgeting and finding employment.

"By the end of January 2014, over 1,700 tenants had been visited in their homes and provided with support. "

He added: “Since there was a representative of the Caerphilly Against the Bedroom Tax campaign at Caerphilly council's Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee meeting in March, when all this information was made available, I'm frankly very disappointed that they should make negative claims that they know to be untrue.

“I urge them to engage in constructive dialogue with us about how we can help our tenants even better, rather than snipe away from the sidelines.”

Harry Andrews, Caerphilly council leader and Labour group leader, added: “At the initiative of our Labour-led council, and with the support of tenants' representatives, Caerphilly council's staff have worked tirelessly to support all tenants affected by the bedroom tax.

“No Caerphilly tenant has been evicted as a result of the bedroom tax. Hundreds are better off as a result of our staff's expert advice and support.”

Meanwhile, the number of people receiving financial help from Caerphilly council because of benefit changes has quadrupled since the bedroom tax came into operation last April, according to information recently obtained by Plaid Cymru under the Freedom of Information Act.

In Caerphilly, the numbers receiving Discretionary Housing Payments increased from 236 in 2012/13 to 937 in the first nine months of 2013/14.

The amount given to struggling tenants has increased from £73,994.99 to £241,033.

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