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Ceredigion MP signs Commons ‘Bereavement Standard’ motion

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UK GOVERNMENT urged to introduce new account closure standard to help grieving families.

Ben Lake MP has backed a House of Commons motion which calls for the introduction of a new ‘Bereavement Standard’.

The early day motion (EDM), tabled as parliament returned on September 1st, calls on ministers to “simplify and streamline” the “complex array of arrangements” which face grieving families who need to close accounts with service providers, following the death of a loved one.

The growing support in parliament comes as nearly 80,000 people have signed a public petition at change.org/bereavementstandard which demands similar action from the government to improve the process of account closures across the UK.

Ben Lake MP said: “Grieving families have enough to cope with without the added burden and unnecessary stress caused by having to close multiple accounts, which at the moment can take weeks or months to complete. A new Bereavement Standard would simplify and streamline the process.”

The campaign, launched recently by mother and daughter Julie and Vicky Wilson, from Easington, Co Durham, is backed by several charities including Cruse Bereavement Care, Sue Ryder, Marie Curie, and the Good Grief Trust. A ‘Bereavement Standard Working Group’ to help bring about the requested standard has also been established with leading service providers, parliamentarians, charities, and UK regulators.

Across the UK, more than 600,000 people die every year. Currently, there is no approved process for closing accounts when someone dies – some companies demand a death certificate before closing an account, others seek different proof and paperwork. It can take weeks, or months, of repeated calls, to close just one account. On average individuals have up to 20 utility, mobile, broadband, TV subscription, and other household service accounts which need to be closed.

The Bereavement Standard would set a time limit for account closures, standardise paperwork and documents required, and ensure service providers have dedicated bereavement channels with properly trained staff, available to customers.

Vicky Wilson, who founded the campaign with mum Julie, said: “We are hugely encouraged that there is such growing support from MPs and members of the public for a new set of agreed standards, and we call on ministers and all service providers across the UK to listen to those voices and back our campaign. Without an agreed Bereavement Standard, service providers can still add unnecessary stress at a time when grieving families have enough to deal with.”

It was following the death of her grandmother that Vicky Wilson experienced the protracted and unsatisfactory process that thousands of families have to endure when closing multiple accounts for loved ones who have died. As a result, she and her mum founded a new online account closure service, Settld, which launches to members of the public for free, later this year.

Steven Wibberly, CEO of Cruse Bereavement Care, said: “It is vital that companies show compassion towards bereaved people. They must simplify their processes to ensure they are fit for purpose and to make sure that they are not causing their bereaved customers further distress, at what is already a very difficult time.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has left thousands more people bereaved. Anything that can be done to simplify this process for bereaved people will have a huge impact.”

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A glimpse at the first few weeks of Penweddig’s new Headteacher

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Penweddig Comprehensive School has appointed a new Headteacher to lead the school.

Dr Rhodri Thomas joins the school after a period as a Deputy Headteacher at Glantaf Welsh Comprehensive School and Cardigan Secondary School.

Originally from Carmarthen, he was educated at Bro Myrddin Welsh Comprehensive School. He studied Chemistry at Oxford University, before studying for a doctorate degree at Edinburgh. He continues to be an ambassador emphasizing the importance of the sciences, and he is the author of a number of A Level Welsh and English textbooks in Chemistry.

Dr Rhodri Thomas, Head of Penweddig Comprehensive School, said: “I started my career in higher education by working in universities in the UK, USA and Australia. I was inspired by the work of educating students, and in particular by the outreach work with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. I saw the difference an individual can make to the lives of children and young people. I moved to work in secondary schools about twenty years ago, and I’ve spent my career in Welsh medium and bilingual schools – I strongly believe in the importance of our work to develop Welsh citizens. In my work at Penweddig, I will focus on nurturing ambition in all pupils and supporting them to develop the skills and qualities to achieve their aspirations. That’s the privilege of being a teacher – we work to help pupils fulfil their dreams.”

Meinir Ebbsworth, Ceredigion County Council Corporate Lead Officer for Schools and Culture, said: “We are delighted to welcome Dr Rhodri Thomas to Penweddig, and we look forward to continuing to work together for the benefit of all pupils and staff in the school.”

Ceredigion County Council would like to thank Rhian Morgan for her work as an Acting Headteacher, and wish Dr Rhodri Thomas well as he takes over.

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Businesses reminded to keep to the coronavirus rules

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Businesses in Ceredigion are reminded to keep to the coronavirus rules to avoid a rise in cases.

Businesses are reminded to be consistent with their COVID precautions. This includes social distancing, queuing and one-way systems, provision of hand sanitisers and PPE equipment for staff.

Ceredigion County Council shares the concerns raised by Councillor Andrew Morgan, the WLGA Leader, relating to an apparent and general ‘drop in standards’ in social distancing measures in some supermarket settings.

Complaints received by the Council’s Public Protection Service on this matter have been increasing and raise more general concerns associated with a wider range of premises including dining places, public houses and supermarkets. These complaints suggest that there has been a decline in compliance with social distancing guidelines in some of these businesses.

In Ceredigion, the Council will be re-focusing attention on these business sectors and conducting targeted inspections with a view to reminding businesses of the regulations that are in place and their legal responsibilities. Improvement Notices will be issued to premises where it is considered necessary and appropriate.

New regulations came into force on Monday, 14 September which has provided local authorities in Wales with new powers to control premises, events and public places in their areas to help control coronavirus. This includes closing premises and public places and stopping events.

The public are also reminded of the need to follow the rules when out and about in Ceredigion. Wearing masks in shops and other indoor public spaces is now compulsory.

Information on Ceredigion and the Coronavirus is available on the Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/coronavirus

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Ceredigion MP welcomes High Court ruling on Covid-19 business interruption insurance

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HOLDERS of business interruption insurance have welcomed a victory in a High Court test case to determine whether the Covid-19 pandemic should trigger payouts under their policies.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought a test case earlier this year over the wording of business interruption (BI) insurance policies, which some insurers argue do not cover pandemics.

The FCA previously said it was bringing the legal action following widespread concern over the lack of clarity and certainty for businesses seeking to cover substantial losses incurred by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent national lockdown.

The FCA selected a representative sample of 17 policy wordings used by 16 insurers, which were considered at an eight-day hearing in July.

Eight insurers agreed to assist the FCA by taking part in the test case, which the regulator has said it hopes will provide clarity and certainty for everyone involved in these BI disputes, policyholder and insurer alike.

The High Court judges ruled that pay-outs should put businesses back in the position they would have been in had Covid-19 never occurred.

According to FCA estimates, the findings could affect as many as 370,000 policyholders one way or another — and each successful claim could potentially run to tens of thousands of pounds.

Ben Lake MP has been following this case closely after raising the matter with the UK Chancellor on behalf of many Ceredigion businesses. In response to today’s ruling, Ben Lake MP said:

“This is a significant judgement. Covid-19 has caused substantial disruption to businesses across the county, and many are under immense financial strain as a result. By making existing insurance policies effectively worthless during this crisis, many insurance companies have left businesses out of pocket and have damaged trust both in the market and in the Government containment measures.

“I therefore welcome the actions taken by the Financial Conduct Authority, and I hope that following today’s High Court ruling the UK Government will do its utmost to ensure that the insurance industry takes effective, fair and immediate action to assist businesses that fell foul of their original interpretation of these policies.”

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