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Discretionary Assistance Fund receives £11m boost in Wales

Thomas Sinclair

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An extra £11m is being made available to help families facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Welsh Government is increasing the amount of funding for the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) so it can support the calls for financial help from people across Wales.As the stay-at-home restrictions continue, families have been turning to the fund for additional support to help them with some of the financial pressures and challenges they are facing.Meanwhile, the Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James has called on the UK Government to make urgent changes to Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to help protect more people in hardship and provide faster help to those who need it.

Announcing the additional funding for the DAF, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn said:“Coronavirus is having a dramatic impact on people’s and family finances with claims for Universal Credit and calls on the DAF at a record high.“These are some of the most vulnerable people in our society, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves facing a significant change of circumstances. It’s only right that we do all we can to protect them from extreme financial pressure. “The funding I am announcing today will help us support as many people as we can through this period of financial hardship.”The DAF provides grant funding to support people experiencing extreme hardship. Many of people will be the most vulnerable in society due to issues relating to poverty, physical and mental health issues and are therefore at greater risk from the impacts of coronavirus.Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James has written to the UK Government urging it to change Discretionary Housing Payments. These are available to people in receipt of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, but they have to wait at least five weeks to receive it.People who are not entitled to either of those two benefits, but are on reduced incomes due to coronavirus, have no entitlement to the payments.

 The Minister is calling on the UK Government to make a permanent change to give all Universal Credit claimants entitlement to DHP from the date of their claim, rather than waiting for five weeks.She also wants a temporary change to give those people who are not in receipt of these benefits but are facing difficulties meeting housing-related costs as a result of coronavirus access to DHP.Ms James said:“I’m very concerned tenants in the social and private rented sector may face difficulties meeting housing costs in the face of reduced incomes during the current crisis.“We are, of course, encouraging individuals and households to seek support through Universal Credit and the range of government schemes, but many still face financial difficulty and we need to do as much as possible to support them. I have therefore asked the UK Government to consider these changes as a means of delivering both immediate and longer term vital support for low income tenants.”

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£100,000 of cannabis plants seized in west Wales police raid

Thomas Sinclair

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POLICE seized cannabis plants worth an estimated £100,000 during a warrant near Ammanford.

Dyfed-Powys Police searched a home in Garnant on Wednesday, July 21, where 100 plants were discovered to be growing in the front room and two bedrooms.

Given the number and maturity of some of the plants, officers estimate the quantity of cannabis growing to be worth around £100,000.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “This was a significant seizure of cannabis plants, which were growing in a sophisticated set-up across three rooms.

“Our investigation is ongoing into who is responsible, as there was nobody present at the time of the warrant, and we are carrying out all possible lines of enquiry to identify a suspect.

“I would like to thank all officers involved for showing great teamwork during the warrant and subsequent enquiries.”

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101.

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

Quote reference: DPP/2891/21/07/2021/02/C.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

(Picture above: File Image)

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs

Carli Newell

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to Aberystwyth, Llanelli and Swansea.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody. They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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New children’s play area in Bryn as part of new council housing development

Carli Newell

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A NEW children’s play area has opened in time for the summer holidays in Bryn, Llanelli as part of a new £5.9million council housing development.

Carmarthenshire County Council is building 32 new homes on land close to the Dylan housing estate in Bryn.

The scheme will be made up of 22 two-bedroom homes, four two-bedroom bungalows and six four-bedroom homes and is part of the council’s ongoing drive to deliver more affordable homes across the county. It has been part funded through the Welsh Government’s Affordable Housing Grant.

The development also includes a new children’s play area, funded by the council in partnership with Llanelli Rural Council, which will take over the running and maintenance of the play area on completion.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I am delighted the park has been completed in time for the summer holidays for the local children to enjoy.

“We are committed to delivering more affordable housing across Carmarthenshire and this development will benefit dozens of families in Llanelli, as well as proving much needed facilities for the local community.

“I would like to thank the rural council for collaborating with this us on this and I hope the children are thrilled with it.”

Before designing the play area, the rural council liaised with local schoolchildren to find out what play equipment they wanted at their new park.

Llanelli Rural Council Chairman Cllr Tegwen Devichand said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council to provide this wonderful new play area for the community.

“The opening of the play area couldn’t have been better timed to coincide with the school holidays. I hope the local children will enjoy the range of challenging play equipment on offer and that they have lots of fun using it over the summer.”

The housing development is due to be completed by the beginning of 2022.

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