THOUSANDS of people in line for a £150 energy rebate need to see the money in their bank accounts soon, the leader of Carmarthenshire Labour said.
Cllr Rob James has urged Plaid Cymru – the majority party in Carmarthenshire – to “get a grip of the situation”.
A Plaid spokesman said council staff needed time to process the tens of thousands of payments, and that some other councils in Wales have said it would take months to do this.
The council, meanwhile, said it aimed to start paying eligible households from next week.
A nationwide £150 energy rebate for council tax A to D band households was announced by the Welsh Government in early April to help people with the cost of living crisis. It was in response to an average £693 rise in the energy cap for millions of people across the UK.
Councils, which process these £150 payments, have also received some discretionary funding to help those who need it the most.
Cllr James claimed that council tax A to D households in Carmarthenshire who paid their council tax by direct debit might not receive their £150 payment until the end of June, with council taxpayers who paid by other means not expected to receive it until the end of the summer.
Cllr James said neighbouring Swansea and Neath Port Talbot councils had already provided the support, or were in the process of doing so. He has now written to Plaid’s new leader, Cllr Darren Price, but did not blame in any way the council staff who process payments.
“It is deeply disappointing that the cost-of-living payments in Carmarthenshire have been delayed once more, especially when residents were promised these payments by the end of April initially,” said Cllr James.
“It’s time that this Plaid Cymru administration got a grip of the situation, as these payments are needed now,” he said.
The Plaid spokesman said:
“Carmarthenshire, with 190,000 residents, is the fourth largest in Wales by population, so obviously staff need time to process the tens of thousands of payments.
“The timescale is not exceptional. Indeed, some councils have said it will take months to process the payments.”
He added that the new administration would not actually be in place until the council’s annual general meeting on May 25. Plaid has 38 out of 75 councillors following last week’s council elections.
The Plaid spokesman said that after the annual meeting the new administration will set out “a bold vision to address the cost of living crisis”.
A council spokeswoman its aim was to start paying out to eligible households from next week.
“Households who do not pay by direct debit will receive a letter next week explaining the steps that they require to take to receive their payment,” she said.
The central Government-funded £150 rebate will cost £9.5 million in Carmarthenshire. The council has also received a £1.5 million discretionary fund on top. Deciding how to allocate the £1.5 million will require a political decision at cabinet.
“This will be done as soon as possible and as soon as committees reconvene following the recent local elections,” said the council spokeswoman.