The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has conducted an inquiry into the Welsh Government‘s handling of regulations regarding council tax reduction schemes. This followed the UK Government’s announcement that the benefit system, which gives households additional help to pay their council tax bills, would be devolved to local councils rather than run at a UK level. The Welsh Labour Government’s subsequent mishandling of this situation in Wales resulted in the recall of the Assembly during recess in order for people to be given this support.
The Committee’s report, which was published today, states that the “Welsh Government confused the political process with the legislative process. In doing so, we believe the Welsh Government may have, at the time, lost sight of the Assembly’s role as a legislative body”.
This whole fiasco could have been avoided if the Welsh Labour Government had acted properly. However it’s clear that the Welsh Labour Government was far more interested in a having a spat with the UK Government than it was in actually helping the people of Wales.
Rather than getting on with the job in hand, the then Local Government Minister chose to enter into a game of tit for tat and point scoring with Westminster.
“He continually blamed the UK Government for not producing figures he said he needed, but on closer examination we found that not only was this problem not encountered in Scotland and England, but the Minister himself admitted that what happens in England was of ‘little significance’ to him.
The Welsh Labour Government had a responsibility to ensure some of the poorest people in our society had appropriate support to help them with their Council Tax bills, yet instead its priority was merely to play politics.
The Minister handled this policy issue poorly, which is completely unacceptable given the considerable implications it had for people across Wales. The Welsh Labour Government needs to reassess how it deals with new and complex policy areas, because on this issue its performance was simply not good enough.