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Ceredigion to help rehearse the next census

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CEREDIGION has been chosen to help ensure the overall success of the 2021 Census with a rehearsal taking place across the county later this year.

The rehearsal will enable the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to test some of the systems and processes it has put in place ahead of the digital-first 2021 Census.

The coastal county has been chosen as it has a high proportion of Welsh speakers, and includes a large rural area with varying internet coverage.

Tower Hamlets and Hackney in London and Carlisle in Cumbria will also be taking part.

People in each of the chosen areas will be asked to complete a questionnaire about those living in their household on 13 October 2019.

The rehearsal will be online, with help for those who need it. Residents will be invited to take part later this year.

Director of census operations, Pete Benton, said: “The census helps inform vital public services such as the number of children’s school places, hospital and GP services and social care provision in local areas.

“As the census only takes place every ten years it is important we hold an operational rehearsal to ensure that all our processes run smoothly.

“The people who take part will all be helping to ensure the overall success of the 2021 Census.”

The 2021 Census will, for the first time, collect information on veterans of the UK Armed Forces. This enables monitoring of the Armed Forces covenant – the deal between the country and those who served it.

And it is proposed that there will also be a new voluntary question on sexual orientation for those aged 16 and over. In addition to the usual question on being male or female, there will also be a voluntary question on gender identity for those aged 16 and over.

Ceredigion Facts from 2011 Census:

• There was a total of 75,922 residents living in 31,562 households.
• Among them were 12,559 households with no dependent children and 1,305 with three or more.
• There were also 16,487 single people, 26,716 were married and 407 were in a civil partnership or cohabiting with a partner of the same sex.
• A total of 35,404 residents said they could speak Welsh.
• There were 2,063 farmers and nearly as many artists (143) as publicans and managers of licensed premises (144).
• But just 11 people were keeping the county’s historic ship and boat building industry going.
• While another 16 people worked at quarries.
• Among the county’s least common jobs were tailors, pipe fitters and pest control officers.
• However, in some of the most popular jobs were 2,623 carers, 5,675 secretaries and 6,492 who had a skilled trade occupation.
• 30,032 residents either answered that they had no religion or did not specify.
• There were also 43,981 Christians, 521 Muslims and 355 Buddhists – making up the county’s most popular religions.
• 5,803 households said they did not have a car or van but 12,132 households had two or more – together, households owned a total of 42,905 cars or vans.
• The county’s population was made up of 71 ethnicities. Excluding ‘white British’, the two biggest groups were made up of 619 Polish and 479 Irish people.
• Meanwhile, 349 Jedi Knights were protecting the county from the ‘dark side’.

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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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