BEN LAKE calls for zero-rating for mandatory face coverings
At today’s (Jul 22) PMQs, Plaid Cymru’s Ben Lake MP called for VAT to be cut on face coverings.
The standard 20% rate of VAT is continuing to be charged on non-medical face coverings in the UK.
Mr Lake has also written to the Chancellor calling for the tax to be removed.
Face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in each of the UK nations by Friday, with England and Scotland also requiring their use in shops. The Welsh Government has stopped short of making masks mandatory in retail settings, but has advised their use where social distancing is not possible.
There is currently a temporary zero VAT rating applied to all supplies of PPE which are made between 1 May and 31 October 2020. This only applies to PPE made for medical settings, not the face-coverings advised for use by the general public.
There are concerns that the cost of face masks could be prohibitive for some families as they become mandatory.
The European Commission indicated support for temporary VAT reliefs, including zero-rates, directly linked to the efforts being undertaken to mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Netherlands has applied a zero rate to domestic sales of ‘mouth masks’ from 25 May 2020 to 1 September 2020. The zero rate will be applied to non-medical masks that consumers are allowed to use on public transport, as well as to medical masks, regardless of who they are sold to.
During PMQs, Ben Lake MP asked:
“Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport in Wales next Monday.
“A zero VAT rating has been applied to most PPE since 1 May – but at present it does not apply to non-medical face coverings.
“Will the Prime Minister therefore extend the zero rating to these items so that members of the public – especially those on low incomes – are not financially penalised for following the rules?”
The Prime Minister responded by repeating that VAT on PPE had been removed and committed to speaking to the ‘relevant minister’ to clarify the UK Government’s position.
Following PMQs, Ben Lake sent a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was also copied to the Prime Minister, saying:
I am contacting following a request I made to the Prime Minister during today’s oral questions. I urge you to consider extending zero rate of VAT to reusable masks while their use is mandatory or advised to reduce the spread of covid-19.
I welcomed your announcement earlier in the year that a zero rate of VAT would be applied on items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to ease the burden of tax on essential infection protection equipment needed to deal with the emergency.
Now that face coverings have been made mandatory by all the governments of the UK in certain settings, I urge you to extend this exemption to reusable masks.
I believe this could easily be done by modifying the guidance dated 24 April 2020 titled ‘Guidance, COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE)’ to reflect the updated advice with regards to face coverings. I would encourage the UK Government to follow the advice of the World Health Organization when defining what masks should be used, to encourage the use of the most effective masks available.
The Netherlands applied a zero rate to the domestic sales of masks, including non-medical masks for use on public transport, with the aim of making masks cheaper for those who travel on public transport. I would urge you to do the same.
Restrictions ease further with caution, says County Council
WITH restrictions easing further, both residents and visitors are reminded to enjoy Ceredigion safely and responsibly.
Wales will move into alert level 2 on Monday, 17 May, Welsh Government has announced.
The changes to the coronavirus restrictions, which will come into force from Monday 17 May include:
· Indoor hospitality can re-open – 6 people from up to 6 households (not including children under 11) can book
· All holiday accommodation can re-open fully
· Entertainment venues, including cinemas, indoor-play centres and areas, amusement arcades, and theatres can re-open. Cinemas, theatres concert halls and sports grounds can sell food and drink as long as it is consumed in a seated area for watching the performance
· Indoor visitor attractions, including museums and galleries can re-open
· Up to 30 people can take part in organised indoor activities and up to 50 people in organised outdoor activities. This includes wedding receptions and wakes.
International travel will resume from Monday 17 May but extra safeguards will be put in place for people returning from some countries to prevent coronavirus re-entering Wales. A traffic light system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber and red. This means people living in Wales will be able to travel to a small number of foreign destinations without the need to quarantine on their return. Mandatory quarantine for countries not on the green list remains in place.
From Monday 24 May, a paper-based vaccination status will be available for people in Wales who have had 2 doses of vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof.
However, the Welsh Government continues to advise people to only travel abroad for essential purposes.
Caution still needs to remain as the Coronavirus is still with us. Ceredigion residents and visitors must keep following the guidance for Covid-19 infection rates to remain low. Keeping a social distance, wearing a face covering and washing hands regularly are vital to keep our county safe.
Enjoy Ceredigion safely and responsibly.
Safe visiting opportunities in Care Homes being put into place
FOLLOWING Welsh Government’s announcement of moving to Alert Level 2 on Monday, 17 May, families of Council-run Care Homes are reassured that further enhanced visiting opportunities are currently being reviewed and progressed.
The Care Homes will be contacting the designated visitor of those residents who are currently cared for in bed to arrange indoor risk assessed safe visits from Monday 17 May onwards.
Visitors and residents will be offered options regarding their preferred location for the visit. This includes safe visiting options (for example a Pod) or outdoors (weather permitting). The length of time for visits will be extended.
As part of this important piece of work, questionnaires will be sent to families. This will ensure that residents have their voice and wishes centrally captured and used to support with planning and implementing any changes.
The safety of residents, staff and families will be central to all of the visiting opportunities that will be put in place.
All the Care Homes are looking forward to welcoming families back.
Cllr Paul Hinge elected Chairman of Ceredigion County Council
COUNCILLOR Paul Hinge has been elected as the Chairman of Ceredigion County Council for 2021-2022 during the Annual Meeting held virtually on Friday 14 May 2021.
This concludes Councillor Gareth Davies’ term of office, where he has steered the Council through an unprecedented time in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Following being elected as Chairman, Councillor Paul Hinge accepted the position and addressed the Council saying that becoming Chairman of the Council was a great honour.
Originally from Cardigan, Councillor Paul Hinge now lives in Bow Street and represents Tirymynach ward on Ceredigion County Council. He is also the Council’s Armed Forces Champion and has campaigned extensively for veteran rights over the years as a veteran himself.
Councillor Paul Hinge, Chairman of Ceredigion County Council, said: “As a child born in Cardigan a number of decades ago now, I could never have envisaged then that one day I would be taking one of the highest elected civic roles in my home county as I have done so here today; this is a very proud moment in my life. I would like to thank my fellow councillors for entrusting me with this role for the forthcoming municipal year. I would also like to give a special thank you to Councillor Gareth Davies for his unstinting work in such difficult times in this last year, it’s been an honour to have been his Vice Chairman. I look forward now to being Ceredigion County Council’s Chairman in the year ahead”.
Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, added: “I would like to congratulate Councillor Paul Hinge on his election as County Chairman and wish him well for the coming year. I would also like to thank Councillor Gareth Davies for steering the Council’s virtual meetings so smoothly and skilfully over the last year.”
Councillor Ifan Davies from Lledrod ward was elected as the Council’s Vice-Chairman. The Reverend Richard Lewis was appointed as the Chairman’s Chaplain for 2021-2022.
Questions for the Former Chairman
Councillor Gareth Davies, Llanbadarn Fawr Padarn ward, was the Chairman of Ceredigion County Council during 2020-2021. Here we look back at his year which has been very different in terms of all of the restrictions and adjustments.
What was it like to be the Chairman of Ceredigion County Council during the pandemic?
It was quite an unusual experience compared to previous years. Of course, nobody foresaw how the pandemic would affect our lives, nor how long it would last. We have all had to adjust the way we live and work. It was a bit of a disappointment that I did not have the opportunity to represent the county in any official events during my time. As an individual who has links with the Tregaron area, it was also sad to hear that the National Eisteddfod would be postponed. However, having said that, I’m extremely proud that I live in Ceredigion where the effects of the pandemic have been amongst the best in the United Kingdom.
What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was learning how to chair a virtual meeting. With over fifty people in attendance, it was not possible to see everyone on the call at the same time. Everyone else had to learn as well, and, as a result, the meetings took a litter longer than usual. I hope that the Council members feel that I have been a fair Chairman and that everyone had the opportunity to speak if they wished to. Everyone is coping well with the system by now.
What was the best thing about your experience?
I consider myself very privileged, and I was delighted that the elected members of Ceredigion County Council gave me the opportunity and trusted me to be Chairman. The year did not turn out as I had expected. But the safety and the health of Ceredigion’s residents is far more important than anything else.
What is your message for the new Chairman?
I very much hope that the new Chairman will have the opportunity to do the role justice, and I wish him well for the coming year.
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