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Hywel Dda responsible for 40% of overspend by health boards

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD is responsible for more than 40% of the total overspend by Welsh health boards, it has been revealed.

By the end of this financial year, a total of £163m will have been overspent, according to a BBC Wales analysis.

Of that sum, £69.6m will have been overspent by Hywel Dda.

The huge figure is an increase of 40% from last year, with an overspend of just under £50m.

The total health board deficit figures are:

  • Hywel Dda Health Board (West Wales) – £69.6m
  • Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board (North Wales) – £36m
  • Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (South West Wales) – £30m
  • Cardiff and Vale (South Wales) – £26.9m

The amount spent on temporary doctors and nurses at Hywel Dda hospitals, due to ongoing recruitment problems, is largely to blame.

Hywel Dda said in their latest financial report that their savings had been ‘the best so far’ this year, however this had been countered by ‘local cost pressures’.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said that if the health boards were overspending they would not be ‘bailed out’ by the Welsh Government.

The Welsh NHS was also warned that it was facing ‘the most financially challenging period in its history’.

A spokesperson for The Welsh Government said that it was increasing NHS budget above what had been recommended.

They said: “Investment in our NHS is at a record high and Wales already spends considerably more on health and social care per head than in England.

“We are also investing an additional £550m over the next two years, including £100m to help transform the way health and social services are delivered.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns AM, said: “These soaring deficits show a health service in Wales which is teetering on the brink of financial abyss.

“Failures by the Welsh Labour Government to initiate long-term planning measures for health boards and to break the culture of waste and inefficiency have all played their part in the mess our NHS now finds itself in.

“From Hywel Dda to Betsi Cadwaladr – which is in special measures and under direct Welsh Government control – the situation across Wales is getting worse and worse.

“There is a real risk that health boards will soon be forced to cut vital services in order to make savings, and it’s patients and staff who will be left paying the price.

“This once again raises very serious questions for Labour’s Health Secretary who seems to have run out of ideas and has promised not to bail out health boards.

“To avoid any further damage to services and public confidence in them, Vaughan Gething needs to instigate swift root-and-branch reforms of the health service focused on better planning, smarter spending and stronger public health messaging.”

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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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