Wales' new Housing Minister Carl Sargeant (pictured above) says the cut in housing benefit for tenants with spare bedrooms will have a "devastating impact" on many poorer households across Wales and that public services face a testing time as they struggle to cope with the fallout.
The so called ‘bedroom tax’, imposed by the UK Government from 1 April, means that tenants of council or housing association accommodation who are on housing benefit will be assessed for the number of bedrooms they actually need and those ruled to have too much space will receive a reduced payment.
Carl Sargeant said: “Research shows that around 40,000 households in Wales will lose an average of £11 per week from this change and, sadly, it is many of the most vulnerable people in society who will be affected.
“The Welsh Government is committed to doing all it can to ensure that the change does the least possible damage to our communities. However, we are under no illusion.
“We know that people will suffer hardship and this will put even more pressure on public services that are already straining to cope due to the current financial climate.
“We have allocated funding for 2013/14 to ensure that people on low income continue to receive council tax benefit.
"We are also providing £750,000 for the coming financial year to help on issues such as advice, landlord liaison and face to face contact with tenants having problems meeting their housing costs.
“We were also able to allocate some additional funding towards the end of the financial year to a number of projects focused on preventing homelessness, including extra resources for the homelessness prevention funds of all local authorities.
“Also, several local authorities have joined together to undertake projects that reduce the rate of tenancy failure and put in place solutions that tenants say they prefer.
“The Welsh Government is hugely concerned that many already hard pressed households are facing hardship and so is looking to find ways of supporting tenants and organisations to mitigate the effects of this highly damaging policy."