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Tax credit changes ‘target self-employed’




Changes are economic madness: Nia Griffith MP

Changes are economic madness: Nia Griffith MP

WELSH businesses will be hit hard by changes to the UK-wide system of tax credits, according to Llanelli MP Nia Griffith.

According to the Welsh Government (2012), 99% of businesses in Wales are SME’s with 95% of those businesses being micro businesses, accounting for 60% of all Welsh employment.

This week, self-employed people in Wales have received letters from HM Revenue and Customs advising of changes to checks on their claims for Working Tax Credits (WTC) and with many facing the possibility of losing their entitlement.

The Herald spoke to the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Nia Griffith MP about her concerns about the effects the changes will have on Wales and the Welsh economy.

Ms Griffith told us: “It is really concerning because quite clearly what Labour want to do if we get reelected in Wales is to make it easier for parents to be able to combine having a family and being able to get work. We know very well that it is the organisation of child care is the key thing.

“We are going to be consulting with parents so we get that best match for them: so that the 30 hours a week are accessible and we are talking about 48 weeks of the year. We know how for many parents school holidays are a problem.”

Nia continued: “At the same time the HMRC is looking at how it is going to assess people for tax credits. Tax credits don’t forget are for people who are in work. The paperwork looks like it is incredibly onerous. It also doesn’t take account of the fact that peoples’ work patterns do vary and that in the past we have looked at averages over a year.

“This is going to be immensely complicated. It is going to be a disincentive for people to work. It is going to be a disincentive for people to move from current circumstances. It is going to be a disincentive to take on new challenges.”

Talking about the difficulties selfemployed people are facing in Wales Nia Griffith observed: “Very often when you start up a new business or a new type of work, perhaps you don’t manage to do that much to start with. You only do a few hours. You have to put some input in before perhaps it takes off.

“It is going to be very difficult to see how people are going to cope with filling in all the paper work and worrying about the fact they are going to be cut from this or that or that they are going to have to pay back enormous amounts. It looks to me that instead of encouraging people to work it could very well end up discouraging people.”

The Herald asked if the changes would now force self employed people out of self employment and into the cycle of trying to claim alternative benefits or seeking low paid jobs.

Ms Griffiths answered: “It would be a tragedy if people are forced back onto benefits firstly because we are trying to make the provision for parents to try and go out to work and combine parenthood and work. From the point of view of the country’s economy it is complete madness. When people are doing their very best in trying to get some sort of work whether it is a small amount of experience to keep their hand in or expanding a business or whatever it is and then to be hit by ridiculous rules that are being brought in it seems to me to be crazy.”

The Shadow Secretary of State concluded: “For a lot of people running a cottage industry, it has been the only way to survive. Many people have been very resourceful and they have set up micro businesses for themselves. Whether it is cake decorating or catering they are home based industries, which they have trained themselves for and the have invested in. They may only be able to take on a few people on a self employed basis and quite clearly all these little cottage industries will be suffering and they are a very significant part of our economy.”

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Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues




POLICE said that they saw a reduction in antisocial behaviour involving young people in Carmarthenshire over the weekend, following weeks of increased activity.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers proactively patrolled areas which have recently become hot spots for teenagers to gather and drink alcohol as part of an ongoing operation.

A police presence was also maintained on trains between Llanelli and Carmarthen to identify how many youngsters were travelling in the area and where they were getting off.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “Over the weekend we continued our work to target, deter and deal with antisocial behaviour and underage drinking in hot spots identified primarily in Llanelli and Burry Port.

“Section 34 dispersal orders had been put in place ahead of the weekend, meaning we could move on anyone likely to cause antisocial behaviour, but thankfully they were not required. This is an improvement on previous weekends when we have had to exercise these powers.

“A significant number of young people were spoken to, with the vast majority being pleasant, not under the influence of alcohol, and not causing any trouble.

“Members of the public acknowledged the high police presence, as did the young people, and this might have deterred underage drinking.

“We are very pleased to have seen the change in attitudes and behaviour this weekend.”

The force received just one call reporting youngsters gathering at Burry Port harbour, with no offences or antisocial behaviour identified by attending officers.

Of the young people spoken two over the weekend, two were found with alcohol which was seized. Follow-up antisocial behaviour letters will be issued, and home visits will take place shortly.

Groups were also reminded of the dangers of swimming near the harbour and were encouraged to take their rubbish home.

Officers on the rail network removed one drunk adult from a train.

Sgt Davies said: “I would like to thank all officers involved in the operation over the weekend, as well as the young people who made sure they stayed within the law while enjoying the weather.

“We will be out and about again next weekend and throughout the summer, making sure the area is enjoyable for all who visit.”

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Lord Lieutenant visits Mass Vaccination Centre




Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sarah Edwards, has paid tribute to all those involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme during a visit to the Y Ffwrness Mass Vaccination Centre in Llanelli.

During the visit on Wednesday 9th June she was joined by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr.Jonathan Gravell. They met and spoke to the centre’s vaccinators, NHS staff, security staff and volunteers.

To date, the collective efforts of mass vaccination centres, GP practices and community pharmacies in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, have resulted in the Hywel Dda University Health Board delivering over 431,850 vaccinations. This means 266,785 of the eligible population have now received a first vaccine, and 165,056 have received both doses.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed said: “It was wonderful to see first-hand the incredible work being undertaken by the vaccinators, NHS staff and volunteers. They have played a crucial role in the success of the vaccine rollout programme. I would also pay tribute to the public for their overwhelmingly positive response to getting vaccinated.”

Maria Battle, Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “On behalf of the health board, I was delighted to welcome Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Dyfed, Miss Sara Edwards, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col David Mathias, and the High Sheriff of Dyfed, Mr Jonathan Gravell. I am deeply proud of everyone involved in the vaccination programme and I’m glad they got to see for themselves the incredibly work being undertaken to help get us through this pandemic.”

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Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour




POLICE seized large amounts of alcohol and arrested a teenager as they continued to deal with antisocial behaviour over the weekend.

Dyfed-Powys Police had proactive plans in place to deal with ongoing issues of groups of youngsters gathering in Carmarthenshire following rising reports of alcohol-related antisocial behaviour over the past two months.

Dispersal orders were in place across Llanelli and Burry Port, giving police the powers to move anyone believed to be causing a nuisance, harassment or distress out of the area.

Officers patrolling the rail network in Carmarthenshire on Saturday noticed a large amount of young people getting off the train at Ferryside, where an additional dispersal order was put in place and alcohol was seized.

Officers were also required to deal with children trespassing on the railway tracks.

Sergeant Gemma Davies said: “We had received reports of children with alcohol running across the tracks, which posed a huge danger to themselves and others, and had to be stopped as a priority.

“One boy who was detained became abusive towards officers and could not be reasoned with. Officers had no choice but to arrest him for his own safety and to prevent further offences from being committed.

“This incident goes to show that the kind of behaviour we are dealing with goes beyond groups of young people meeting to have a good time, and is putting people in highly dangerous situations.”

A 17-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the railway and using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He has been released under investigation pending further enquiries by British Transport Police.

Early intervention was taken in the Trostre area of Llanelli, where officers noticed groups of children meeting on Saturday.

Sgt Davies said: “More than 60 young people were moved on from both locations and a large amount of alcohol was seized.

“Out of these groups, four notices were issued to those causing the most trouble in the Trostre area which prevented them from returning, and each of these youngsters were taken home.

“This swift action was a deterrent to other young people who were planning on joining the groups and were still travelling to the area.”

“We will continue to put plans in place each weekend and over the summer holidays to deal with antisocial behaviour, using all powers available to us to put a stop to it.”

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