19 February 2009>
Caerphilly County Borough Council's Cabinet called a halt on the cost of heating and lighting for many of it's residents living in council owned sheltered accommodation complexes - despite significant increases in the costs of these utilities nationally during the past 18 months.
At a cabinet meeting yesterday, members reviewed a report put to a recent Living Environment Scrutiny Committee on the results of the "Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Charges 2009/10.
Leader of council, Cllr Lindsay Whittle said, "We are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of our county borough's residents, particularly our more vulnerable ones, and through agreeing to put a halt to increases in costs for heating and lighting in many of the council owned sheltered accommodation complexes, we are helping those on low incomes to keep warm and safe.
Had we instigated these changes, the council would have generated a saving of £63,000 over the forthcoming financial year, however the safety and wellbeing of residents is paramount - this possible saving for the council does not even enter into the equation."
The report recommended that in order to assist the council in meeting the increases in utility charges, members should agree to place an increase on, amongst other things, heating and lighting charges for many residents in council owned sheltered accommodation by £3.00 per week to £15.70, as was recommended by Welsh Assembly Government guidelines.
Cabinet members however, opposed this recommendation wholeheartedly, feeling that this was completely the wrong stance to take, particularly given the current difficult economic climate, and extremely unfair on some of the county borough's most vulnerable residents, who may simply be unable to afford this increase in utility costs.
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