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Council will still get a cheapskate award even after fee hike

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A COUNCIL increased its care home fees on the day it was named and shamed as one of the worst payers in Wales, it’s been revealed.

Carmarthenshire County Council was originally second from bottom in the league of shame compiled by social care champions Care Forum Wales (CFW) after they announced rises of less than two per cent.

The authority has now improved its offer with increases of up to 4.81 per cent.

As a result the average fee has gone up from #624.81 a week per resident to #642.27 a week and moved up one place in the standings to third from bottom.

It’s still among the worst 10 payers in Wales who will be presented with Cheapskate Awards by CFW.

According to industry champions Care Forum Wales (CFW), care homes are the victims of an untenable post code lottery which means they’re paid wildly differing fees depending on which county they are in.

CFW chair Mario Kreft MBE is calling for an urgent shake-up of the system once the new Welsh Government is place after the election on May 6, with a new national fee structure that is fair to all.

The organisation, which represents nearly 500 independent social care providers across Wales, is awarding wooden spoons to the ten worst payers as part of the second annual Cheapskate Awards.

They have illustrated the point by publishing a “league of shame” highlighting the massive chasm between the top and bottom local authorities.

Right at the foot of the table is Swansea where a 40-bed care home receives £230,000 less than a home in league leaders Torfaen in Gwent – or just over £5,700 per resident.

The gulf is likely to be even wider in July when Cardiff Council publish their new rates because last year’s fees were higher than the increased payments announced in Gwent for 2021/22.

Last year’s fees in Cardiff would still put them at the top of the table – the old rate in the capital is £1,600 a year more per resident than the new increased fee in Torfaen.

Newport negotiate separately with individual providers so it was not possible to include them in the table but they are in line with the generally higher rates paid in the South East of Wales while Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council had not yet revealed their fees for the coming year.

Mr Kreft said: “We welcome the fact that Carmarthenshire County Council have increased their offer to the rates they had originally announced.

“The council sent the letter to providers on the day Care Forum Wales unveiled the recipients of the second annual Cheapskates Awards.

“In truth Carmarthenshire were starting from a very low base so they still have a very long way to go until they pay adequate fees, so they will still be given a Cheapskate Award.

“This is all about prioritising the care of the most vulnerable people in Wales and how we treat them speaks volumes about out society and our values.

“If there was ever any doubt, the way the front line social care workforce has risen magnificently to the unprecedented challenges cause by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pay received by social care staff in the independent sector is set by the local authorities who factor in what they should be paid when calculating the fee rates.

“Invariably, they all pay staff in council-owned homes a lot more – often in excess of £2,000 a year more – than they enable us to pay our wonderful care workers in the independent sector. How about that for hypocrisy?”

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, had admitted the sector was fragile even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and Mr Kreft is concerned that many care homes across Wales will not survive.

Care Forum Wales say the root of the problem is that for more than 20 years the social care sector has been managed and funded separately by the 22 local councils and the seven health boards in Wales which was a recipe for disaster.

Mr Kreft said: “The current system is broken and not fit for purpose. The aim of the Cheapskate Awards is to highlight the really serious problems created by an iniquitous fee structure here in Wales.

“The statutory responsibilities the local authorities have are discharged in such a way that we have this post code lottery  which has led to an unstable system.

“Some of these figures really amount to a kick in the teeth to dedicated people who have been showing tremendous courage as well as skill and kindness in the face of a frightening disease during this deadly global pandemic.

“Are vulnerable people in Torfaen really worth ££5,700  a year more than equally fragile people in Swansea?

“The evidence uncovered by the Cheapskate Awards and previous surveys proves that social care is too important to be left to the vagaries of local political decision-making.

“Even in a global pandemic where budgets are tight. Powys implemented an increase of more than 20 per cent while another council had an increase of less than two per cent.

“For those who argue that it’s an issue for the national Government, the past 25 years have shown than when money has been available, local authorities have taken political decisions not to spend it on social care. As a result, they have unhinged  social care sector provision, whether that’s care homes or domiciliary care.

“In contrast, the Welsh Government’s Covid funding for social care has been fantastic. It has ensured that care homes, even with drastically reduced occupancy, have not been forced to close.

“Last year Care Forum Wales launched our 2020 campaign to ensure qualified staff who work in care homes and domiciliary care in Wales are paid a minimum of £20,000 a year and we are delighted that all the main political parties are backing our call.

“There is clearly a major North/South divide while the Swansea area is also suffering because the further North or West you go, the fees appear to fall off a cliff.

“Twenty years ago in North Wales four of the local authorities were in the top quartile and the other two were just behind. Things have changed dramatically and the people of North Wales have lost out in a big way.

“These are political decisions made by local politicians who broadly get the same funding. 

”Those commentators who derided the Cheapskate Awards last year should reassess the importance of bringing to the public’s attention the way that vulnerable people are valued differently across Wales.

“It’s a small country. We all have to work to the same national standards of quality and surely now is the time we have minimum standards of funding.”

RegionLAResRes EMINursingNursing EMIAverage for LA Percentage Increase 
GwentTorfaen689.64757.19721.83755.86731.13 4.50
GwentMonmouthshire670.00747.00708.00734.00714.75 5.99 – 6.11
W WalesPembrokeshire658.71717.45679.12735.90697.80 1.09 – 2.12
C&VVale of Glam659.98730.12659.98730.12695.05 4.00
GwentBlaenau Gwent628.00718.00690.00732.00692.00 2.30
N WalesConwy611.00665.00693.00733.00675.50 4.30 – 4.50
W WalesCeredigion644.00686.00658.00700.00672.00 6.36 – 6.65
CMTRhondda CT649.00688.00656.00694.00671.75 1.72
PowysPowys659.00669.00660.00698.00671.50 19.68 – 22.26
CTMBridgend628.00670.00648.00690.00659.00 2.50
N WalesGwynedd586.32650.79676.48714.91657.13 3.41 – 3.62
CTMMerthyr592.00657.00660.91708.71654.66 1.08 – 1.72 
N WalesWrexham608.72634.81660.88699.97651.10 3.93 – 4.34 
N WalesAnglesey596.01631.40657.04714.92649.84 3.47 – 3.62
N WalesFlintshire607.00632.79651.28689.92645.25 4.03 – 4.40
GwentCaerphilly615.00671.00612.00675.00643.25 3.50
N WalesDenbighshire586.32631.40657.04695.49642.56 3.50
W WalesCarmarthenshire622.73650.37601.47694.49642.27 4.50 – 4.81 
Swansea BayNeath PT619.96619.96627.57660.23631.93 4.00
Swansea BaySwansea576.00576.00653.00678.00620.75 2.00
  
All Wales Average£625.37£670.16£661.58£706.73£665.96 4.29 – 4.62%
         
Cardiff not yet declared – 2020 fees.£737.89£793.48£730.08£786.99£762.11 N/A
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Education

St. Michaels School celebrates excellent A-Level results

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St. Michael’s pupils with their A-Level results

ST. MICHAEL’S School, Llanelli, is extremely pleased to announce another year of successful A-Level results, with 80.2% of all grades awarded either an A* or A grade.

The vast majority of pupils have earned a place at their chosen university to study courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Economics.

This is the first year that traditional exams have resumed since the Covid-19 pandemic began with the majority of lessons in the first part of the A-Level being delivered online rather than in a classroom environment. This makes the results even more of an achievement considering the circumstances.

Headmaster Mr Benson Ferrari said: “We offer our sincere congratulations to our outgoing Year 13 class on the publication of their A-Level results, demonstrating that our pupils have worked so hard despite the challenges of returning to a conventional assessment approach.

“They approached the situation with resilience and dedication, which has resulted in grades that are truly representative of their ability.  I am confident that they will all go onto achieve great things at university and in their working lives.  

“We wish them the best as they move to this new and exciting stage of their education.  The preparation which St. Michael’s has provided will be built upon, along with our values and principles providing a lasting framework to tackle the challenges ahead.”

In 2020, St. Michael’s School was awarded The Sunday Times Welsh Independent School of the Decade and this was in part due to the excellent exam results that the school receives each year. 

St. Michael’s was also ranked 13th in The Times 2019 Co Ed League Table for UK Independent Schools, which was the last time that the results were published. The school hopes that this year’s results will continue to secure their place in the 2022 league table which will be published later this year.

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Police appeal following road traffic collision in Cwmystwyth

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DYFED-Powys Police have issued a statement following a road traffic collision on Saturday, August 13.

Officers attended a two vehicle road traffic collision which occurred about 6.40pm near Cwmystwyth, Aberystwyth.  

Dyfed-Powys Police said: “The two vehicles involved were a blue Triumph Tiger motorcycle and a black Ford Fiesta.

“The male rider of the motorcycle was taken to hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening.

“Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police by calling 101. 

“If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

“Quote reference: DP-20220813-392.”

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Scheme to enhance the town of Tregaron for the National Eisteddfod

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THE REGENERATING Rural Towns scheme run by the Cynnal y Cardi LEADER programme has been supporting Tregaron Town Council with a series of marketing techniques and installations to promote and enhance Tregaron in preparation for the historic and cultural event, the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2022.

This work acted as a legacy to the National Eisteddfod at Tregaron following the influx of thousands of people to the town daily for the duration of the festival and subsequently to the surrounding rural communities and local sites of interest.

A wide range of installations could be seen in Tregaron during the Eisteddfod following town branding design work, which included a giant deckchair, lamp post flags, banners, bunting, tiered flower planters, benches & picnic tables, monument conservation improvements, and a prominent Tregaron sign overlooking the ‘Maes’. Many of these features will remain in place for the summer months and can be utilised by the town in the future. Further town development work is due to commence to maintain and enhance the attractiveness and vibrancy of the town.

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