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Secretary of State visits college’s work programme

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college programSECRETARY of State, Iain Duncan Smith MP, visited Pembrokeshire College to find out more about their delivery of the Government’s Work Programme, which has been an effective tool for helping the long-term unemployed back into work.

Pembrokeshire College is the lead deliverer of the Work Programme across Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. Their successful back to work figures since the programme started in 2011 has ranked them as one of the leading deliverers of the scheme in the UK.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP and Minister for Wales, Stephen Crabb, visited the College in December 2012 to gain an update on their delivery of the new Government initiative.

Stephen was keen to help secure a visit by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to showcase the work that the College’s team has been doing to help support people back into work locally.

On Thursday, December 12, Iain Duncan Smith MP, accompanied by Stephen Crabb MP, visited the College’s Work Programme offices to meet both staff and customers and to find out more about the resources on offer to those seeking work.

The Secretary of State’s visit comes at the end of a year when unemployment levels have fallen steadily in Preseli Pembrokeshire.

Following his visit Mr Duncan Smith commented:“I was delighted to visit Pembrokeshire College with Stephen and see how the Work Programme is making a real differenceto the hardest to help jobseekers.

“It was a pleasure to meet the team and congratulate them for their hard work and dedication.

“The fall in unemployment figures in Preseli Pembrokeshire is extremely positive news, as it is in the rest of the country, and shows just why the Work Programme is so important to the long-term unemployed.”

Commenting from the College, Stephen Crabb MP said: “I am pleased to have arranged for the Secretary of State to come to Pembrokeshire and see the excellent progress being made in tackling unemployment this year. I have been very impressed with the way that the team at Pembrokeshire College, as local providers of the Work Programme, have been delivering intensive support to the long-term jobless.

“Helping people overcome the difficult barriers that stop them working remains one of the biggest challenges facing Wales. The performance of the Work Programme and our local Job Centre Plus has been very encouraging and it is good that Ian Duncan-Smith has been able to see it firsthand.

“I am very pleased that the Secretary of State, who is leading the Government’s welfare reform and back-to-work initiatives, has been able to see the passion and commitment that the team at Pembrokeshire College have in making one of his programs a success in our county.”

Director of Business, Development and Community Services at the College, Dr Geoff Elliott, added: “The Work Programme forms an integral part of the College’s Welfare to Work provision which is currently engaging with over 1,000 people across Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.

“The success of the Work Programme at the College is testament to the hard work and commitment of the staff who work within this challenging sector. Our results show that the key to tackling long-term unemployment is ensuring that people receive the individual support they need to help them back into sustainable employment.

“We have found that there are many synergies between what the Work Programme offers and what we do at the College on a daily basis – training people to make them ready for employment.”

Stephen Crabb MP and the Secretary of State also visited The Lion’s Den on Snowdrop Lane in Haverfordwest to meet with the owner, Hayley Thomas and her staff. Hayley was helped to set up the indoor children’s play area, cafe and nursery through the New Enterprise Allowance which is available from the Department for Work and Pensions to help people set up their own business ventures.

Hayley is now employing 15 staff members and has worked hard to develop the business since it was founded in 2011. Hayley was recently selected to attend a reception at Number 10 to recognise the success stories of the Government’s new scheme and support for businesses.

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RNLI in Wales urges people to stay safe as Storm Brendan hits

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to stay safe near the Welsh coast as severe weather could make our seas and coastlines particularly dangerous.

Lifesaving charity, the RNLI, is encouraging people to exercise extreme caution if visiting the shoreline, especially along exposed cliffs, seafronts and piers.

The expected strong winds and severe gales pose a severe safety risk to those visiting the coast.

Named Storm Brendan by Met Eireann, it swept eastwards across Ireland before making its way through the rest of the UK this morning with yellow wind warning in place for most of the Welsh coast.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead for Wales said:

‘This rough weather could make visiting parts of the Welsh coastline treacherous and bring very dangerous sea conditions.

‘Sadly, around 150 people lose their lives on British and Irish coasts each year and over half of these people didn’t plan on ever entering the water. Slips, trips and falls can be a major factor in these kinds of incidents.’

If you see someone else in danger in the water, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you have something that floats that they can hold on to, throw it to them. Don’t go in the water yourself – too many people drown trying to save others.

The charity, which provides a search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, is facing its own Perfect Storm as demand for its services has increased but it is facing a shortfall in funds. This past year, the RNLI has been busier than ever, and stormy conditions can mean additional call outs for the already extremely busy volunteer crews. Whatever the weather, RNLI volunteers will still be on call to rescue those at difficulty at sea.

The RNLI’s major new fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, which aims to help the charity get back to living within its means, is running throughout November and December. To find out more or to donate visit RNLI.org/ThePerfect Storm.

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Community

Are you missing out on a Council Tax reduction?

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IF YOU’RE struggling to pay your Council Tax bill, then help could be available for you through the Welsh Government’s flagship Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS).

The scheme, which will continue to support vulnerable households in 2020-21, currently benefits one in five of all households in Wales. In the last year almost 280,000 low-income households have received help from the scheme, with 220,000 paying no council tax at all. Many more receive other discounts or exemptions.

You may be entitled to pay less council tax if:

• you believe you live on a low income
• you live alone, or with people/children who do not pay council tax
• you are a student
• you are disabled
• you are severely mentally impaired

Understanding why there are still vulnerable households not benefitting from the help they are entitled to is a priority for the Welsh Government. Last year we commissioned research to understand the circumstances of households in Wales and the effects of the UK Government’s Universal Credit on the CTRS.

The interim report out today shows that for many households, the move to Universal Credit can have a significant impact on council tax reduction awards. Whilst many households currently receiving a 100% reduction will continue to do so, for others, the move to Universal Credit is shown to have an adverse impact, particularly for employed households, self-employed households, and working households in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

Full findings of the interim report are available on the Welsh Government website. These findings will now be considered in more detail to inform the next stages of the research and policy development in this area.

Encouraging people to make sure they are not missing out on help they could be entitled to, Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:

“Ensuring every household in Wales receives the council tax support they are entitled to is an important part of our commitment to making council tax fairer.

“Our scheme is already helping hundreds of thousands of households across Wales, but we know that there are still many missing out on the discounts, reductions and exemptions they are entitled to. I encourage everyone to check the Welsh Government website to find out if they could be paying less.”

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Success for Dyfed-Powys Police in targeting drugs suppliers in Ceredigion

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A drugs supplier in the Ceredigion area has been sentenced to 2 years and 2 months in prison.

Kylie Mason, 34, from Aberaeron, was arrested on the 28th October 2019, and later charged with 2 offences of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug and two offences of supply a controlled drug of Class A. She pleaded guilty at court and received a total sentence of two years and two months in prison on the 8th January.

Detective Sergeant Steven Jones said: “This is an excellent result for the Aberaeron community, who had raised concerns about this individual supplying drugs in the area. I hope this will serve as a warning to others who wish to bring drugs into the Ceredigion area that it will not be tolerated. This result will go a long way towards keeping our communities safe. If anyone is worried about drugs in their community I would urge them to contact police as we will take the appropriate action.”

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