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Workways+ help secure more job opportunities

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Amanda Needham: With Workways+ mentor, Wendy Fitzpatrick

Workways+ offers training and paid work experience opportunities to long-term unemployed people to help them on their route back to employment. Amanda Needham, 57 has recently benefited from their support to find employment at a newly opened farm shop and Welsh bistro.

Having recently moved to the area with her husband, Amanda had previous experience in retail and manager roles, and was looking for a role that wasn’t too stressful and hours that would suit her. Not knowing what type of work that was available in the area, Amanda sought help and advice from Workways+.

Workways+ mentor, Wendy Fitzpatrick, contacted Bargoed Farm, a family run business in Llwyncelyn, Ceredigion, who were setting up a new farm shop and bistro, The Moody Cow. She sought out whether there were any employment opportunities available at the farm which would suit Amanda. After an initial period of volunteering at the farm, the owners, pleased with Amanda’s progress, began employing her on a part-time basis after she received training in Health and Safety. Amanda is now working full-time at the farm shop and bistro and working towards further qualifications in Food Hygiene.

Amanda said, “Working with the Workways+ Team was great and my mentor Wendy was very supportive. She went above and beyond to find a job that suited my needs. Wendy was able to take into account my previous roles, experiences and skills and really listened to my aims for the type of job that I was looking for. She provided practical support to get me through the CV, application and interview process. I’m thrilled to be part of this new enterprise and part of the team at The Moody Cow. I would recommend Workways+ to anyone looking to get back into employment.”

Workways+ offers one-to-one mentoring, support with job-seeking and interview skills, and the chance to gain new qualifications. Support will target individuals affected by work-limiting health conditions and disabilities, as well as those with care responsibilities or low or no skills.

Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Ceredigion County Council Leader said, “It is positive to hear of Amanda’s story, like many others, who have benefitted from Workways+. They are an important service of helping people over 25 in Ceredigion get back into work, receive training opportunities or volunteer.”

Workways+ is backed by £17.3m of European Union funds through the Welsh Government. The project is led by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council in collaboration with Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion County Councils.

If you would like more information, contact the Workways+ Team at Ceredigion County Council on 01545 574193 or workways@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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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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