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Welsh Government plan council tax reform as part of Labour-Plaid agreement

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Welsh Government have announced plans for a consultation next year on a package of council tax reforms.

The move forms part of the Labour and Plaid Cymru co-operation agreement commitment, which the party’s say will make Council Tax fairer.

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Options being considered include revaluation, a review of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, and an evaluation of discounts, disregards, exemptions and premiums – with options for more fundamental reform in the longer term.

The Welsh Government say that reforms to council tax would be designed to ensure contributions from households are made as fairly as possible, while maintaining its role as a significant revenue stream which helps to fund essential public services including education, social care, and recycling.

Rebecca Evans, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said: “We want to modernise the council tax system and make it fairer. We want to make council tax more progressive in its design and delivery.

“This will be a significant piece of work and it will be important, through the consultation we launch next year, that we listen to people’s views and look at what can be practically achieved during this Senedd term – as well as leaving open the potential for further and more fundamental reforms in the longer term.

“I have been speaking with colleagues in local government, who are of course key partners in delivering what we set out to achieve. It’s important we co-design changes with them as well as work with partners in the Senedd and across Wales to find consensus on reform.

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“Changes won’t be brought in immediately and it will be important to focus work on the early building blocks needed for change, including revaluation. I want to achieve meaningful reform, with carefully considered ideas that everyone gets a chance to have a say on.”

This work will be carried out in collaboration with the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group, as part of the Co-operation Agreement between Labour-run Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

Siân Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru Lead Designated Member said: “Plaid Cymru will work closely with the Welsh Government and local government in Wales to reform what is an out of date, regressive and distortionary taxation. We have long argued that the current system disproportionately impacts poorer areas and change is long overdue.  We look forward to developing a fairer and more progressive system as we put our co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government into action.”

A consultation is planned with a view to introducing initial reforms during this Senedd term.

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Over 500 teenagers in Wales to get £1600 a month in basic income trial

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The Welsh Government has launched its basic income trial scheme that sees it giving more than 500 people leaving care in Wales £1600 each month for two years – with no strings attached.

Equating to £19,200 a year before tax, it’s believed the cash offered is the highest amount provided on a basic income pilot anywhere in the world.

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The £20m scheme is controversial, and previous universal basic income trials in Kenya, Finland and California failed.

Welsh Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt says this particular scheme is a direct investment in the lives and futures of some of Wales’ most vulnerable young people.

The minister added that those taking part in the pilot will also receive individual advice and support to help them manage their finances and develop their financial and budgeting skills.

Local authorities will play a key role in supporting them throughout the pilot. Voices from Care Cymru will also work with the young people to give them advice on wellbeing, education, employment and help them plan their future after the pilot.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We want all our young people to have the best possible chance in life and fulfil their full potential. The state is the guardian of people leaving care and so has a real obligation to support them as they start their adult life.

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“Our focus will be on opening up their world to all its possibilities and create an independence from services as their lives develop.

“Many of those involved in this pilot don’t have the support lots of people – myself included – have been lucky enough to enjoy as we started out on our path to adulthood.

“Our radical initiative will not only improve the lives of those taking part in the pilot, but will reap rewards for the rest of Welsh society. If we succeed in what we are attempting today this will be just the first step in what could be a journey that benefits generations to come.”

The Welsh Conservatives however have criticised the scheme as “giving out free money” and say it won’t help tackle the problems some vulnerable young people face.

Joel James, the Welsh Conservative shadow minister for social partnership said: “Whilst I wholeheartedly support helping the poorest and most vulnerable in our country, the Labour Government is not even close to living in reality with this trial.

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“Countless trials from across the globe have found basic income does not have the expected outcomes as it fails to incentivise work and proves time after time to be a waste of public money.

“If rolled-out across the board with every adult in Wales receiving £1,600 a month it would cost nearly £50 billion a year, and at the same time reward the wealthiest in society rather than helping those who need it most.

“Our NHS is at breaking point and our economy is in a fragile state, but instead of tackling those issues head-on, Labour are more interested in Basic Income – which will cost the country an absolute fortune.”

Welsh Government Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis like no other and we therefore need new ways of supporting people who are most in need.

“Our Basic Income pilot is an incredibly exciting project giving financial stability to a generation of young people. Too many people leaving care face huge barriers to achieving their hopes and ambitions; such as problems with getting a safe and stable home, to securing a job and building a fulfilling career. This scheme will help people live a life free of such barriers and limitations.

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“We will carefully evaluate the lessons learnt from the pilot. Listening to everyone who takes part will be crucial in determining the success of this globally ambitious project. We will examine whether Basic Income is an efficient way to support society’s most vulnerable and not only benefit the individual, but wider society too.”

Tiff Evans of Voices from Care Cymru, speaking on behalf of young people who have experienced care, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for care leavers in Wales. It is good to see that care leavers in Wales are being thought of and Welsh Government are providing this opportunity for them as young people to become responsible, control some parts of their lives and have a chance to thrive and be financially independent.

“We thank Welsh Government for investing in them and their future and we look forward to other changes and developments for care experienced young people in Wales in order for them to reach life aspirations.”

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UK households waste almost £170 on average each year on unused subscriptions

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A third (33%) of UK households have multiple individual memberships for the same streaming service, when they could be saving money by paying for one household membership instead, according to research from comparethemarket.com.

UK households spend £50 on average each month on paid-for subscriptions, the equivalent of £600 a year, with 32% spending as much as £50 to £300 a month.

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Depending on the providers’ terms and conditions, paying for one membership could also apply to joining up with family or friends outside your household for a subscription service, as almost two-fifths (39%) say they do not share subscriptions with close family or friends to save money.

Cutting down on infrequently used or forgotten subscriptions is another way households could make savings – the research found that nearly one in two households (49%) spend money on unused subscriptions, wasting on average £14 a month, the equivalent of almost £170 a year.

Of those who keep unused or infrequently used subscriptions, nearly half (48%) keep them just in case they ever use them again, close to a fifth (19%) say it’s too much hassle to cancel, and 15% feel they do not have the time to go through their finances and cancel unused ones.

Popularity boomed for online subscriptions over the past two years, with more than three-quarters (76%) of UK households having signed up for at least one subscription since the pandemic began. However, with the rising cost of living, many are now reviewing their expenditures and almost half of households (48%) say they are likely to cancel at least one subscription in the next few months.

Cancelling or spending money on unused subscriptions varies significantly by age; half of adults under the age of 34 (50%) are likely to cancel and are wasting the equivalent of £192 a year (£16 a month on average) on unused services. Whereas under a third (29%) of people aged over 55 are planning to cancel unused subscriptions and are wasting an average of £84 each year (£7 a month).

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At a time when household finances are being squeezed, the research also revealed that some companies are not making it easy for people to cancel memberships when needed. Free trials are a beneficial way to test a service and 65% of people have signed up for at least one in the past 12 months.

This figure is highest among young people, with 72% of those aged between 16-34 having signed up; this drops to only 28% for those aged over 55.

However, over a fifth (22%) found it difficult to cancel their subscription at the end of the free trial. When asked whether they were warned about the free trial ending and being automatically renewed, 46% said they were not.

Alex Hasty, director at comparethemarket.com comments: “You can get a subscription for just about anything now, with many people having signed up during lockdown seeking access to new forms of entertainment.

“However, at a time when household finances are being squeezed significantly, our research shows that people are now wasting hundreds of pounds a year on services they’re not using regularly or by having multiple accounts amongst family and friends unnecessarily.

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“Frequently reviewing your spending with the help of free tools or apps could help those impacted by the increase in household expenditures.

“This applies for other household bills too – an effective way of cutting costs and relieving some of the financial pressure is shopping around online for a better deal, such as for car and home insurance, or broadband.

“With comparethemarket.com, customers can also set up automated car and home insurance renewal quotes and be notified ahead of their renewal date to help them find great deals and save money.”

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Lifestyle

New study shows cost of getting married could exceed £42k in 10 years

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woman wearing white wedding gown holding hands with man while walking

Planning on getting hitched? Then start saving now! A new study has shown that the cost of getting married is likely to rise by 36% in the next 10 years.

We’ve got 10 money saving wedding tips that could help combat the eye watering costs.

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With many engaged couples having had to postpone their big day over the past couple of years, it won’t be good news to many that alongside rising living costs, weddings are getting more expensive too.

To find out what couples can expect to spend on their wedding in the next 10 years, Life insurance broker Reassured has used a forecast prediction model based on the average wedding cost of previous years.

The research reveals that in 10 years’ time couples can expect to spend an average of £42,924. For that price, you could buy that fancy new sports car you always dreamed of! This would be a 36% increase in 10 years, as currently, in 2022, the average price for a wedding is expected to be around £32,572.

Here’s how much weddings are going to cost in the next 10 years:

YearCost of a Wedding
2023£33,204
2024£34,713
2025£35,958
2026£37,153
2027£38,393
2028£39,539
2029£40,540
2030£41,079
2031£41,995
2032£42,924

Wedding money-saving tips

With weddings becoming more expensive every year, Reassured spoke to 10 newlyweds to reveal their biggest money-saving tips: 

  1. Instead of hiring a photographer for the full night, arrange disposable or polaroid cameras for your guests to use – some great snaps guaranteed!
  2. Send your invites online – this doesn’t just make your life easier but also saves a few pennies too. In this digital age, this is totally acceptable.
  3. Instead of giving wedding favours to each guest, consider donating to charity.
  4. Decorations don’t always have to be brand-new, check out local charity shops, eBay or Facebook marketplace. This does not only save you money but is also more sustainable.
  5. Scrap plans for an open bar or drink vouchers – beverages often rock up the highest bill!
  6. When buying your wedding dress shop around on different sites and don’t shy away from warehouse sales, the abundance of choice might just have the dress of your dreams. Also, when searching online, search for white dresses instead – the choice is yours!
  7. Make cuts on your guest list. If you’re thinking of inviting someone you haven’t been in touch with over the past year or so, don’t feel bad not inviting that person.
  8. Start planning your big day as early as possible, so you have more time to compare prices and some service providers may even offer a discount when booking early.
  9. Have a look at your wedding dates. During the summer months providers often increase their prices and due to demand weddings on weekends are likely to cost more than one during the week.
  10. To save up for the cost of your wedding you can consider setting up a joint account with your partner where each of you will add in a set amount after payday. This will help you get an overview of your budget as well as keep you from dipping into it to spend it on something else.

A spokesman from Reassured comments on the study: “Being prepared is now more important than ever. Prices are rising and with that saving up for special occasions is made even more difficult for people. However, people shouldn’t miss out on their big day, so being savvy with expenses can be a huge help.

“When getting married or having children it is always wise to plan ahead. Putting life insurance into place is a cost-effective way of ensuring the financial future of loved ones and as the UK’s largest broker, we are on hand to help make sure you get the protection you need quickly and efficiently.”

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(Lead image: Jeremy Wong / Pexels.com)

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