MORE than four in 10 families in Wales (43%) plan to borrow money to cover the costs of Christmas this year, a survey by The Children’s Society has revealed.
The survey, which also found that – in England and Wales – one in 10 families borrowed over £500 for last year’s festivities, raises concerns about the number of families with children who may find themselves at risk of falling into a debt trap by New Year’s Day.
The costs of Christmas presents, food, drink, decorations, travel and other related activities see families spending an average of £700, according to the Opinium survey of 2,000 adults.
On average, parents spend £340 on presents alone, with one in five spending over £500 on gifts. To fund all these costs, almost on e in five (17%) will borrow on their credit cards this Christmas.
The challenges are even more sobering for families who have already found themselves in problem debt this year – more than half of them (54%) are planning to borrow more to cover the cost of Christmas, with almost a quarter counting on their credit card.
For families who are struggling, borrowing can have a number of unintended consequences. In the worst cases, where credit repayments take up a larger proportion of income, parents can find themselves in a debt trap from which it can be hard to escape.
The risk is that parents with children may find themselves cutting back on essentials to meet debt repayments. The survey shows that over half of families in problem debt in the last year cut down on their heating in the weeks after Christmas in an attempt to rebalance their finances after the festive period.
Problem debt can damage children’s physical and mental health. In September, The Children’s Society revealed that children in living in families with problem debt are five times more likely to have low well-being than those that are not.
Matthew Reed, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “All parents – particularly those who are struggling – need to be aware how difficult it can be to shake off Christmas debt. No-one wants children to miss out on the fun and excitement of Christmas, but neither would anyone wish parents to wake up on New Year’s Day with a nasty hangover of debt.
“We know the damage problem debt can cause to children, who often pay the price with their mental and physical health, and that’s why we’re calling on government to give families the time and space they need to get their finances back on track.”
The Children’s Society, as part of its Debt Trap campaign, is calling for better support for families with children who fall behind on bills and repayments. It is urging the government to introduce a 12-month ‘breathing space’ scheme to give struggling parents a period of protection to put their finances in order and get back on their feet.
Another man charged in Ifan Owens assault case
ANOTHER man has been charged and remanded into custody in relation to the serious assault of Ifan Owens, aged 19, in Aberystwyth on January 14.
Michael Arwyn Jones, 24, has been charged with S18 Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent and Possession of Cannabis.
Last week, Billy Valentine, 19, of Terrace Road, Aberystwyth, and David Lloyd, 25, of no fixed abode, entered no pleas when they appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court.
The pair were sent to trial at Swansea Crown Court on May 11 at 10am.
Due to the serious nature of the offence, Lloyd’s bail was revoked.
The court found there was a real risk he would abscond or re-offend.
As well as being charged with grievous bodily harm, he was also charged with having a blade exceeding 3 inches in a public place without good reason or lawful authority.
Valentine was also charged with being in possession of herbal cannabis as the time of his arrest. This was by Magistrates, who gave him a 12 month conditional discharge, and ordered him to pay £20 to fund the victims of crime, and £85 to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Consultation to launch today on future of health services in Ceredigion
HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD are formally announcing the launch of their consultation at County Hall in Haverfordwest this morning (Apr 19).
The proposals, the Board say, will shape the future provision of health and care services to the general population.
These provisions will be ‘safe, viable and offer an improvement to what is currently provided’.
The Herald will be attending the event, which starts at 9:30am.
You can watch a live stream here.
The 12-week consultation, which is clinically-led, will involve a number of events for communities, both general and targeted, as well as an awareness raising campaign.
It is expected that the announcements will have big changes for Withbyush, Glangwili, Prince Philip and Bronglais hospitals.
Issue of lifeboats raised to Prime Minister
BEN LAKE MP made his Prime Minister’s Questions debut, raising the important issue of the future of Cardigan Bay’s lifeboat provision.
On Thursday (Apr 18) Mr Lake commended the valiant efforts of RNLI staff and volunteers at New Quay lifeboat station who have been safeguarding those who venture out into the bay, be it for work or pleasure, since 1864.
He also expressed concern at the possibility that there will no longer be an all-weather lifeboat in Ceredigion from 2020.
Mr Lake asked the Prime Minister whether she would agree ‘that the invaluable work of the RNLI serves as a fourth emergency service, and that as such it is essential the coastline of Ceredigion, like every other populated coastline, has access to this service whatever the weather?’
The Prime Minister responded: “Search and rescue at sea is provided by several organisations, including the coastguard and the RNLI. The RNLI has a proud tradition, and we should be grateful for its record on search and rescue at sea. It is obviously independent and decides where best to put its resources, but we are supporting the work of independent lifeboat charities through our Rescue Boat Grant Fund, which has allocated more than £3.5 million since 2014 to increase capacity and resilience by providing new boats and equipment.”
Ben Lake said: “I was glad of the opportunity to raise an issue that is of great concern to communities across Ceredigion with the Prime Minister. I look forward to working with the RNLI and campaign representatives in search of a long-term solution, and in particular seek to ascertain whether the Rescue Boat Grant Fund could be of benefit to ensuring the retention of an all-weather lifeboat at New Quay.”
The RNLI has decided to downgrade New Quay Lifeboat Station to an Inshore Lifeboat when the service life of its Mersey-class All-Weather Lifeboat expires in 2020.
The proposed new lifeboat will not be able to launch in conditions exceeding Force 7 in the daytime or Force 6 at night.
After 2020, there will be no All-Weather Lifeboats in the whole of Ceredigion, leaving a gap of 70 miles between the All-Weather stations of Barmouth and Fishguard.
The latest generation of All-Weather Lifeboats can travel at 25 knots in 30 minutes in calm conditions. In a challenging sea, the nearest boats at Barmouth and Fishguard would take more than an hour and a half to respond to an emergency off New Quay or Aberaeron.
The mission statement of the RNLI reads: “Our crews aim to launch their lifeboats with 10 minutes of being notified and can operate up to 100 nautical miles out at sea. We aim to reach at least 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch – any weather.”
The Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign are questioning how local rescues can take place in a challenging sea to meet this aim of the RNLI. Over 10,000 have currently signed a petition campaigning against the proposed changes.
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