Council Tax Benefit

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Mark Drakeford: Pa amcangyfrif y mae’r Gweinidog wedi’i gael gan yr Adran Gwaith a Phensiynau o’r costau ar gyfer gweithredu ei pholisi i drosglwyddo cyfrifoldeb am Fudd-dal y Dreth Gyngor i Gynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

[What estimate has the Minister received from the Department of Work and Pensions of the costs of implementing their policy of transferring responsibility for Council Tax Benefit to the National Assembly for Wales.]

Carl Sargeant: I thank the Member for Cardiff West for his question and interest in this subject. While a 10% reduction in funding was announced in the comprehensive spending review, the most recent figures for funding transfer represent a cut of at least 13%. I will shortly be meeting Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud to raise my profound concerns about these financial implications.

Mark Drakeford: Thank you for that. Is it not astonishing that a Government at Westminster is able to tell you that the result of its policies will be that the most needy families in Wales will be £1,100 a year worse off by the time its cuts have been implemented, but cannot provide the most basic information that you can rely on of what it intends to do with regard to council tax benefit?

In January of this year, Capita wrote to the 150 councils in England for which it provides IT services to say that it would be, in its words, ‘impossible’ to put in place the infrastructure that would be needed to bring about these changes by April of next year. Here we are, and we do not even know how much the cost of the cut will be. I wonder if you would be willing to convey to the coalition Government in England just how much disquiet there is in Wales about its plans.

Carl Sargeant: I recognise the Member’s concern with regard to this issue, and I know that the Minister for education raised this at the joint ministerial committee last week. As I said, I will be meeting Iain Duncan Smith shortly to outline my concerns about the uncertainty of a scheme that will undoubtedly place more hardship on individuals across Wales. The uncertainty of the figures does not help the process of administrating this new scheme.