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Snap general election called

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PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has announced that she plans to hold a snap general election on June 8.

This decision, which will need the backing of Parliament to go ahead, is intended to allow for security and stability following the EU referendum and the recent triggering of Article 50.

Ms May said: “I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on June 8.

“I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.

“Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became Prime Minister the Government has delivered precisely that.

“Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.

“We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result.”

Speaking to BBC news a few moments ago Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn MP said:

“I welcome the opportunity to stand up against this government and its failed economic agenda. We want to put a case out there to the people of Britain for a society and economy and a Brexit that works for all.

“We’re going out there to put the case of how this county could be run, how it could be different, how we can have a fairer society for all. That is what we are doing.

“It’s about an economy that works for all.

“We’re challenging the economic narrative which says there needs to be huge cut in public expenditure to pay for the banking crisis of 2008. We say we need to invest. We have massive inequalities between the rich minority and sadly too many people living at the other end of the scale.

“We will take our message to every part of this country. We are campaigning to win this election this is the only thing that matters now. We will give real hope to everyone, and above all give a principle of justice and economic opportunity for everybody.”

However, the announcement has been met with caution by the Farmers’ Union of Wales.

FUW President Glyn Roberts commented: “We have long been calling for the creation of a post-Brexit UK agricultural framework and we know discussions between UK and Welsh Government  have been frustratingly slow.

“The timing of this election will do nothing to aid progress in establishing a UK framework for agriculture and we therefore urge the Westminster Government not to ignore the critical issues at hand.

“As the independent voice for Welsh farming, the FUW we will of course continue to remind all parties about the importance of the rural economy and why #FarmingMatters and is actively going to engage with candidates about the future of agriculture in the coming weeks.

“The Union will shortly release its own general election manifesto outlining our expectations and will work throughout the campaign to ensure MPs understand that the future of the rural economy must be a national priority, now and in the years to come.”

Ceredigion Lib Dem MP Mark Williams said: “Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap election, after again and again ruling it out, shows how precarious her position is.

“This is our opportunity to change the direction of our country – to keep us in the world’s largest single market that Welsh industry relies on, and to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit.

“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be campaigning for Wales and Britain to be open, tolerant and united, and this is the opportunity for people across the country to vote for these values and for a positive future for everyone, against the damaging policies of this Conservative Government.”

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Council tax reduction supports people on low incomes

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A COUNCIL Tax Reduction Scheme is in place to help people who are on a low income. The council administers the scheme on behalf of the Welsh Government for people who are liable to pay Council Tax and who live in Ceredigion. With the recent decision to raise Council Tax by 7%, residents on low incomes are being urged to find out if they are entitled to some help towards paying their Council Tax.

People can be eligible for the reduction if they are on a low income, working or unemployed, cannot work because of illness, retired or are caring for someone. The amount of the reduction depends on a person’s circumstances and how much Council Tax they need to pay.

Councillor Gareth Lloyd is the Cabinet member responsible for Financial Services. He said, “We made the difficult decision to raise Council Tax by 7% to reduce the amount of cuts we have to make to council services. The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising.”

“We want to urge anyone who is on a low income to consider if they are eligible for Council Tax Reduction. Tax increases can add pressure onto people’s budgets, and although this increase is vital to keep quality services in Ceredigion, we want to make sure that anyone who is eligible for help gets it.”

For more information on eligibility and how to claim council tax reduction, email revenues@ceredigion.gov.uk or call 01970 633 252.

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7% council tax increase to protect education funding

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THE COUNCIL TAX in Ceredigion for 2019-2020 will increase by 7%. The increase was agreed by councillors to reduce the impact of cuts to the Council’s budget and, in particular, to protect education spending. The decision was made in a Council meeting on 21 February 2019.

2% of the 7% increase will be used to protect education spending. Schools budgets have been under severe stress after years of needing to make savings. Costs have increased yet again following the agreement of new teachers’ salary increases together with increased pension contributions. This extra 2% uplift will enable school budgets to be kept flat.

The council tax rate increase is set by three key components, the County Council’s tax, the precept of Town and Community Councils and the Police precept. Increases set by the Police and Town and Community Councils result in a combined increase of 7.56%.

Councillor Ellen ap Leader of the Council, said, “We had no option but to ask Council to increase Council Tax by 7% in order to reduce the impact of the cuts we have had to make across council budgets. A successful Ceredigion in the future needs well-funded and well run schools. We want to invest in the future of our children and our county.”

“The reality is that the council is getting less money from the Welsh Government at a time when costs and demand for services are rising. The uplift of teachers’ salaries and pensions has not been fully funded by Welsh Government to date. If council tax had not increased, we would have to make deeper cuts.”

In 2018-2019, the average Council Tax Band D property was £1,226.48. The increase means that the same property will pay £1,312.33 in 2019-2020. The council’s budget has been cut by £39m or 25% in the last seven years. The Council will still need to save another £6m in the coming financial year.

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Information management policies updated to improve security

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THREE key information management policies have been updated by Ceredigion County Council. The policies were updated because of new laws and the need make sure that they are effective in a changing technological environment.

The updated policies were approved by the council’s Cabinet in a meeting on 19 February 2019.

The three policies that have been reviewed are:

· Data Protection/GDPR Policy
· Information Security Policy
· Information and Records Management Policy

The Deputy Leader of Ceredigion County Council and Cabinet member responsible for Governance, Councillor Ray Quant MBE said, “The council needs to keep information and data to carry out the many service we provide. Because of this we have to make sure we’re up to date on data and information protections laws. This decision means that we have approved the hard work done to update the policies and make sure that they are fit for use.”

The policies are essential to manage digital and paper records of the council.

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