THE council’s plans to help people in Merthyr Tydfil deal with the cost of living crisis have been approved
A report approved by full council on Wednesday, July 6, explains the payments that the council is set to make to residents.
Welsh Government has awarded £4.17m to the council for the Cost of Living Support Scheme, including £3.58m for the main scheme and £589,753 for the discretionary one.
The report said there were estimated to be 23,673 properties within Merthyr Tydfil that were eligible for the main Cost of Living Support Scheme payment, which totals £3.55m. The discretionary scheme is estimated to cost £527,500.
Any surplus can be reused by the council within the discretionary fund and any surplus from that scheme will go to the food bank, the report said.
Under the main scheme, £150 can be paid to a household if it was receiving support through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) on February 15, 2022.
Households in bands A to D can also get the £150 if they are liable for council tax in a property on February 15, 2022, are not receiving an exemption for that property on February 15, 2022, are living in the property as their main or primary residence on February 15, 2022, and are responsible for paying the associated utility and other regular bills for the property on February 15, 2022.
Along with the main scheme, the council can use the funding provided under the discretionary scheme to provide support to households it thinks need help with their living costs.
The report said this may take the form of a payment to a household not already covered in the main scheme or it may cover the cost of essential services provided to the household like extending the provision of free school meals.
In Merthyr Tydfil this will involve a £150 payment to be made available to a property occupied on February 15, 2022, that hasn’t received a payment under the main scheme and has an exemption including students, under-18s, someone with a severe mental impairment, care leavers or if there is a granny annex.
A £150 payment will also be made available for a household that is liable on February 15, 2022, hasn’t received a payment from the main scheme and has an exemption including receiving/providing personal care or if there is a resident in hospital or a care home.
A £100 payment will be made available to a property in Band E, F, G, H or I, that
was liable for council tax and was occupied on February 15, 2022 and hasn’t received a payment through the main scheme.
A £100 payment will be made in relation to each child eligible for free school meals and a minimum of a £50,000 payment will be made to food banks.
Unoccupied properties, long-term empty properties, second homes and properties left unoccupied by a person in prison will not be eligible for the discretionary cost of living payment.
The Welsh Government announced a package of measures to help people
with support towards the cost of living which includes £152m to provide a
£150 cost-of-living payment to eligible households through the main scheme and £25m to provide discretionary support across Wales for other purposes related to living costs.
The schemes are intended to provide immediate support as Wales recovers from the pandemic and support households to deal with the impact of increasing energy and other costs, the council report said.
Councillor Andrew Barry said this raises a very interesting question about capacity and the ability to fill vacancies given that there was just one person responsible for administering these funds.
He said: “We have to have equity of capacity with other authorities. Why should it be down to one officer to deliver such a huge scheme? We need equity of provision of resources.”
He said they need to address it as it is one of the major issues for the council adding that Merthyr Tydfil’s residents require the same services as everybody else and in some regards more because of the level of deprivation.