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COMPLAINTS REFLECT HOUSING DISCONTENT

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Complaints against Welsh councils have again reached a record level, the ombudsman for Wales has reported. ...
Complaints against Welsh councils have again reached a record level, the ombudsman for Wales has reported.

In the 1993-94 annual report of the Commission for Local Administration in Wales, commissioner Elwyn Moseley says he received 997 new complaints over the year, a 17% increase on the previous year and nearly double the number of complaints six years ago.

Mr Moseley highlights the 'worrying' problems of housing renovation grants. More than a third of the complaints were about housing. Of these, 92 concerned renovation grants.

Spending restrictions mean some councils are unable to determine applications for mandatory grants within the six-month statutory timescale, Mr Moseley said.

'It was clear in a number of instances that the demand for grants far exceeded the amount the Welsh Office had permitted the council to borrow,' he said.

Councils are faced with the dilemma of either breaking the law on awarding grants or breaking the law on expenditure. Mr Moseley has drawn the Welsh Office's attention to the situation.

But he also criticised councils for the way they handled the problem. Swansea City, for example, decided to suspend approval of all outstanding applications for renovation grants, in clear breach of its legal obligations.

Other key areas for complaints were housing allocations - with members in some districts still found to be helping relatives jump the queue - planning, housing benefits and environmental health.

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