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Accusations of failure by Conservatives as Wales pauses Ukraine Refugee Scheme

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT has announced a “pause” to new applications for its super sponsor scheme for Ukrainian refugees during June

The reason for the pause is to “refine” arrangements for people arriving and ensure public services “continue to deliver a high standard of support”, the social justice minister said.

The Conservatives called the announcement a “failure”.

Plaid Cymru said it raised questions about the “effect of the lack of financial support from Westminster” for Wales efforts to help refugees.

More than 2,000 visas have been issued under the scheme, ministers say. Recent UK government figures say 2,453 people have been issued visas, and 480 have arrived, under the scheme.

The super sponsor scheme, launched in March, is separate from the rest of the Homes for Ukraine programme where people are sponsored by individuals.

Under this 2,456 have received visas and 1,481 have arrived in the UK.

Commenting, Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies MS, said: “I am deeply disappointed that the Labour Government have paused their Super Sponsor scheme for Ukrainian refugees.

“Welsh Conservatives welcomed this scheme when it began, with people in Wales opening their hearts and homes to those fleeing Ukraine. With the situation in parts of Ukraine continuing to deteriorate, it is of the utmost importance that this scheme continues.

Refugees fleeing Kyiv (Image Reuters)

“No matter how they spin it, this is a failure. The scheme was introduced with much fanfare in April, and it’s only taken 8 weeks for Labour Ministers to backtrack. Ukrainian refugees need support, and Welsh Conservatives want to see the scheme back up and running.”

The Welsh Government said: “The temporary pause is to ensure people who are arriving, and those already here in Wales, continue to receive an excellent level of care and support.

“This temporary pause will start from Friday 10 June and the Welsh Government and its partners will use this time to focus on embedding arrangements for next stage accommodation and delivering wider wraparound services across Wales.”

Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “From the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict, our message has been clear – Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary and ready to welcome those fleeing war.

“Launched at the end of March, we have had a very positive response to our Homes for Ukraine Super Sponsor route.  We have seen visas granted well in excess of our initial commitment to welcome people.

“This temporary pause will give us the opportunity to refine the arrangements we have put in place to support people on arrival and ensure all public services, in particular local authorities, can continue to deliver a high standard of support.

“To be clear, this operational pause will not affect any current applications and people will continue to arrive in Wales as visas are granted and travel arrangements are confirmed.”

Praising the ‘Team Wales’ approach to the crisis, the Minister continued: “The level of commitment to the people of Ukraine across all public services and wider society has been wonderful.  

“I want to pay tribute to all those contributing to the ‘Team Wales’ approach to the crisis in Ukraine. The success of this scheme is due to  all those individuals, organisations, businesses, local authorities and third sector partners.

“We can all be proud of the heroic effort in supporting the people of Ukraine, effectively demonstrating that Wales is truly a Nation of Sanctuary.”

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News

New mobile visitor centre ready to help visitors gear up for the Pembrokeshire Coast

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Park Authority Ranger Richard Vaughan and Summer Ranger Megan Holt with the new information van at Poppit Sands.

PEOPLE visiting some of Pembrokeshire’s top beaches and events may soon encounter a new mobile information centre, with a specially converted van ready to hit the road and help people enjoy their visit.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s new information van will be set up at seaside locations and popular local events, with Rangers on hand to give advice to those who need help and suggest free activities for those looking to discover the area’s wildlife.

National Park Authority Ranger Service Manager, Libby Taylor said: “This new vehicle will help our staff provide a range of information at locations where we know many people head to enjoy the National Park.

“As well as helping people learn more about the area and the different ways they can make the most of their visit, people can also find out how they can make the least impact on the Park during their stay.

“As well as having an awning to provide shelter, the van also includes space for magnetic panels that can be changed so the information that’s most relevant to the location or event can be provided.”

The vehicle, which has been converted by local company Poppit Campers, also includes a solar panel, which will help to power two iPads, which will give members of the public a chance to find further information on subjects such as nearby walks and wildlife identification.

The purchase and conversion of the vehicle was made possible through the support of the Welsh Government.

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Community

Deadline approaching for £500 payment to unpaid carers

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THE DEADLINE to apply for a one-off £500 payment to eligible unpaid carers in Wales is rapidly approaching.

The Welsh Government scheme, administered by Pembrokeshire County Council, is open to all unpaid carers in Wales who were in receipt of Carers Allowance on 31 March 2022.

The deadline to apply is 5pm on 15th July 2022 and those who believe they are eligible are urged not to miss out.

The Council is also sending out 400 letters this week to those they believe may be eligible and who have not yet applied.

The payment is in recognition of the increased financial pressures many unpaid carers experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic and to help with some of the additional costs they have incurred. 

The payment is targeted towards those individuals who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and have low incomes.

You will not be eligible for the payment if:

  • You have an underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance but do not receive a payment because you are in receipt of another benefit at the same or higher rate; or
  • You only receive the carer premium  

If you have already applied please be assured the Council is working its way through the applications as quickly as possible.

How to apply

Applicants (this should be the person in receipt of carer’s allowance)

are required to complete the online form at: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/grants/unpaid-carers-500-pound-payment

Required information is:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and email address
  • Date of Birth
  • National Insurance Number
  • Post code
  • A bank statement showing your name, address, account number and sort code

If you are having problems completing the on-line application form please email: UnpaidCarers@pembrokeshire.gov.uk alternatively call 01437 764551 for assistance.

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Crime

Lola James: Two people have denied charges in connection of the death of 2-year-old

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TWO people who have been charged in connection with the death of a Haverfordwest toddler have denied charges.

30-year-old Kyle Bevan of Aberystwyth, denied a charge of murder at Swansea Crown Court.

Lola’s mum Sinead James, 29, denied a charge of causing or allowing the death of a child.

Lola died in Hospital on July 21, 2020, four days after sustaining a severe head injury at her home address in Princess Royal Way, Haverfordwest.

Bevan was remanded into custody.

James was released on conditional bail.

The trial will take place in 2023 and Judge Thomas said it is expected to last four weeks.

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