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Claims Ceredigion Council is clearing Bodlondeb before consultation closes

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MEMBERS of the Save Bodlondeb Steering Group have been contacted by relatives of some of the Home’s residents, who have claimed the Council is taking steps to empty the home of residents before the end of the consultation period.

The relatives have reported that Ceredigion Social Services has contacted a number of residents’ families, inviting them to attend assessments of their loved one’s care needs at less than twenty four hours’ notice.

Late afternoon on Thursday, 14 September, a Save Bodlondeb campaigner received a text message from an upset relative.

The relative said a Council official, involved in co-ordinating the consultation process, told them that Bodlondeb would close at the end of September.  The relative further said that the official could not tell her where her Mother would be placed.

A representative of the Save Bodlondeb Steering Group contacted a member of the Home’s management team, who declined to comment, saying “I can’t tell you, I’m not even having this conversation with you.”

A spokesperson for the campaign told The Herald: “A more senior Council official would only commit to the Home operating until the end of the consultation period, refusing to comment on any other timescale for its operation and blaming press coverage of the proposed closure for causing residents distress”

The Save Bodlondeb Campaign understands that four residents have been relocated in the past twenty four hours, two are due to be relocated today (Friday) and that assessments are planned and ongoing for the remaining residents.

This unconfirmed information was corroborated by upset relatives who spoke to the picket, formed in response to these revelations, outside Bodlondeb. Relatives spoke of staff and residents alike being in tears by this sudden turn of events.

Commenting on this, Save Bodlondeb campaigner Dinah Mulholland said:

“If this is the case, it is further proof of Ceredigion Council’s arrogant expediency.

“The families are naturally extremely upset and the rumour that the home is to close before the consultation period is over, if proved true, shows once and for all what a sham this consultation is. I have advised the Steering Group to seek legal advice on whether Ceredigion Council’s actions compromise the legality of their consultation process.

“And I say to the Council – do not underestimate the strength of feeling about Bodlondeb and our other publicly owned residential care homes in Ceredigion. We will fight for them all.”

The small Picket, mounted outside Bodlondeb at extremely short notice by Ceredigion People’s Alliance, as part of the Save Bodlondeb Campaign, intends to return each day, to peacefully display ‘Save Bodlondeb’ placards, until this matter is resolved

A spokesperson for Ceredigion County Council responded: ‘We wish to reassure residents, their families and the wider community, that Bodlondeb Residential Care Home is operating as normal.

‘Residents’ needs can and do change and this has been the case in recent weeks for a small number of residents. As part of the on-going care and assessment process any changes in residents’ care needs are regularly reviewed and monitored.

‘As a result there has been a requirement for significant increased staffing support to ensure that residents’ needs are being safely met. This has put extra pressure on the staff group in Bodlondeb. Staffing levels are continuously being reviewed and the appropriate levels of support that residents require is monitored and responded to on a daily basis.

‘We are aware that some residents are considering other registered homes due to their own personal choice and other residents require alternative care provision due to their assessed need. Clearly we will support and ensure that the relevant professionals from within the Council and across partner organisations are available to support the residents and their families on an individual basis.

‘All options are considered and decisions taken in consultation with residents and their families. Where necessary and appropriate Independent Advocates and Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) have been commissioned to independently support residents during the assessment and decision making process.

‘Where alternative care options are being actively considered for residents at this time, we have fully engaged and communicated with the families and the IMCA service.

‘Our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those residing at Bodlondeb and that our staff are supported to deliver the care required in a safe environment. We are extremely grateful to the staff for the dedication they continue to show in delivering care to our residents.

‘The consultation process continues and we encourage all members of the community to engage in this very important activity. As soon as the consultation process ends – on Monday, September 25, 2017 – the responses will need to be evaluated and a report prepared and presented to Cabinet to consider the options and come to a decision’.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Councillor Catherine Hughes, Portfolio Cabinet Member emphasised and reminded everyone that Bodlondeb Residential Care home will remain open as present until such time as the matter is considered and decided upon by the Council’s Cabinet. The Consultation period ends on 25 September 2017. There will follow an evaluation of the consultation responses and thereafter a report will be presented to the Cabinet who will consider the options and only then a decision will be made as to the future of Bodlondeb Residential Care home.”

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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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