A new report by IFS researchers says that low-income families in Wales that receive help with their council tax bills will lose an average of £74 per year as cuts in funding from the UK Government are passed onto benefit claimants by the Welsh Government.
Carl Sargeant said:
"This report identifies the challenges the Welsh Government faces in putting in place a system to replace council tax benefit by April 2013. It confirms what we have been telling the UK government all along about our profound concerns over the impact the cuts to council tax benefit will have on some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Earlier this week I reiterated these concerns to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith.
"Council tax benefit is a mainstream benefit whose claimants are living in the margins of poverty - pensioners, single parents and people in low paid work. These families already face a struggle with the impact of wider welfare reform. A reduction in the help they receive towards their council tax will be just another blow.
"The UK Government is yet to confirm the funding that will transfer to Wales for council tax benefit. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has not said whether or not the UK government will be funding the costs of setting up a new system which could amount to several million pounds and they have been dragging their feet on putting in place the arrangements needed to access data to administer a scheme.
"The Welsh Government is considering options for the scheme following a consultation exercise which closed in April and will be taking the IFS report's findings into account.
"We do not underestimate the challenges of delivering such a scheme given the shortfall in funding as well as the lack of detail in such a short space of time and will need to consider both short term and longer term arrangements for doing so."