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Welsh families risk ‘nasty hangover’ of Christmas debt

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screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-16-32-58MORE than four in 10 families in Wales (43%) plan to borrow money to cover the costs of Christmas this year, a survey by The Children’s Society has revealed.

The survey, which also found that – in England and Wales – one in 10 families borrowed over £500 for last year’s festivities, raises concerns about the number of families with children who may find themselves at risk of falling into a debt trap by New Year’s Day.

The costs of Christmas presents, food, drink, decorations, travel and other related activities see families spending an average of £700, according to the Opinium survey of 2,000 adults.

On average, parents spend £340 on presents alone, with one in five spending over £500 on gifts. To fund all these costs, almost on e in five (17%) will borrow on their credit cards this Christmas.

The challenges are even more sobering for families who have already found themselves in problem debt this year – more than half of them (54%) are planning to borrow more to cover the cost of Christmas, with almost a quarter counting on their credit card.

For families who are struggling, borrowing can have a number of unintended consequences. In the worst cases, where credit repayments take up a larger proportion of income, parents can find themselves in a debt trap from which it can be hard to escape.

The risk is that parents with children may find themselves cutting back on essentials to meet debt repayments. The survey shows that over half of families in problem debt in the last year cut down on their heating in the weeks after Christmas in an attempt to rebalance their finances after the festive period.

Problem debt can damage children’s physical and mental health. In September, The Children’s Society revealed that children in living in families with problem debt are five times more likely to have low well-being than those that are not.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “All parents – particularly those who are struggling – need to be aware how difficult it can be to shake off Christmas debt. No-one wants children to miss out on the fun and excitement of Christmas, but neither would anyone wish parents to wake up on New Year’s Day with a nasty hangover of debt.

“We know the damage problem debt can cause to children, who often pay the price with their mental and physical health, and that’s why we’re calling on government to give families the time and space they need to get their finances back on track.”

The Children’s Society, as part of its Debt Trap campaign, is calling for better support for families with children who fall behind on bills and repayments. It is urging the government to introduce a 12-month ‘breathing space’ scheme to give struggling parents a period of protection to put their finances in order and get back on their feet.

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Education

Free School Meals for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 from September 2022

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CEREDIGION COUNTY COUNCIL will be offering Free School Meals from the Autumn term onwards to all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children.

This comes following Welsh Government’s announcement to offer Free School Meals for primary school pupils across Wales, starting with Reception classes from September 2022.

In response to the current rising cost-of-living, this is a positive step forward in ensuring that no child goes hungry while in school and tackling poverty in our County.

From Monday 5 September 2022 onwards, all Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 Children in Ceredigion schools will be offered Free School Meals, extending the offer beyond what needs to be done by September.

Ceredigion County Council and Welsh Government are committed to implementing this scheme quickly and would ask for your patience as we build catering capacity to ensure a successful phased implementation and work towards a whole school roll-out over the next three years.

The Council are working with Welsh Government to develop a process for you to be able to request a free meal for your child/children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 from September 2022, trying to avoid any unnecessary burden for you.

If your child is currently in receipt of free school meals and/or any other associated benefits, these will not be affected.

Wyn Thomas, Cabinet Member responsible for Schools, Lifelong Learning and Skills, said: “The Government’s aim is for Welsh Local Authorities to provide a free school meal for Reception pupils in September 2022. The Council has taken advantage of the flexibility of the scheme and so more pupils in Ceredigion will benefit from the offer of a free meal for Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils in September 2022 in the County’s schools.”

Further information will follow by the end of term.

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Residential care home project approved to increase dementia support

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A DEVELOPMENT project has been approved by Welsh Government that will increase support provided for individuals living with additional needs due to living with dementia at Hafan Deg Residential Care Home, Lampeter.

This project will include renovating four bedrooms, improved personal wellbeing and social area and a securely enclosed outdoor sensory garden.

Councillor Alun Williams, Cabinet Member for Through Age and Wellbeing Services said: “The number of those living with dementia in Ceredigion is rising and we want to make sure that we increase our current provision. This new development at Hafan Deg will enhance the mental and physical wellbeing of both residents and staff and support a reduction in behaviours that challenge. The development will also help to reduce the numbers of residents needing to be moved due to their higher needs.”

Funding has been secured through the Welsh Government Integrated Care Fund Capital programme.

Through the tendering process, J&E Woodworks Ltd were awarded the tender and work is due to commence August 2022.

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News

New Quay RNLI crew member passes out as coxswain

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ON MONDAY (Jun 13), after many months of training and assessments, New Quay RNLI volunteer crew member Peter Yates passed out as a coxswain and is now qualified to take command of the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat based at New Quay Lifeboat Station in Ceredigion.

Father of two Pete, 33, underwent a year of intensive training, including courses at the RNLI College in Poole and assessments afloat and ashore at the station. On Monday he was put through his paces by RNLI Assessor Hugh Davies in his final assessment and passed with flying colours.

With 16 years of experience, Pete has given up much of his spare time to volunteer at New Quay Lifeboat Station and save lives at sea. In his many roles at the lifeboat station he is also an all-weather lifeboat mechanic, an inshore lifeboat helm and the station’s training assessor. Pete said, “It’s been a tough year but worth all the hard work. It was definitely a stressful final assessment as they throw every scenario at you from fire to emergency steering!

“I want to thank my partner Karis and the kids for their support at home, and of course I want to thank New Quay RNLI crew members for all their support, I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I am now looking forward to the challenge of being an all-weather lifeboat coxswain and welcoming the new Shannon class lifeboat in a couple of years.”

Roger Couch, New Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said, “We all would like to congratulate Pete on his great achievement. He puts so much time into being a volunteer RNLI crew member, and now all his hard work has paid off. He thoroughly deserves being a coxswain. Well done Pete from all of us!”

Bernie Davies, New Quay RNLI mechanic added, “Only in the RNLI can you pass an assessment by driving a boat up the beach under emergency steering! Excellent work Pete.”

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