Senedd Bites #62: Letting fee ban in place for September

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Letting fee ban to come into force on September 1st

Following the passing of the Rental Fees Bill in March, the Welsh Government has announced that a ban on some letting fees will come into effect on September 1st 2019.

Local Government & Housing Minister, Julie James (Lab, Swansea West) said: “We understand that landlords and agents need time to make adjustments to their business models and practices in order to comply with the change. However, we have been clear that we want to see this important legislation come into force as soon as possible, in particular before students start their autumn term at Welsh universities.”

Vigil held for Newport hunger striker

Supporters of Kurdish hunger striker, Imam Sis, held a vigil outside the National Museum on the evening on 1st May. Imam Sis, along with a number of Kurds around the world, has been taking part in a hunger strike in protest at the manner of Turkey’s detention of PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan.

Imam’s hunger strike has currently lasted more than 130 days becoming one if, if not the, longest hunger strikes in UK history. In March, the Senedd became the first legislature in the world to demand Turkey allows international observers to visit Öcalan in prison.

School funding “down £500-per-pupil” by the end of the Fifth Senedd

According to research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the amount of funding per-pupil in Wales is set to be £500 lower by the end of the 2020-21 financial year than it was in 2009-10. This is the equivalent of a 9% cut in real terms (after inflation has been taken into account).

The Senedd’s Children & Young People Committee are currently undertaking an inquiry into school finances and the research also revealed big differences in school spending between different local authorities, ranging from £6,400-per-pupil in Ceredigion to £5,000-per-pupil in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Capital limit raised for people needing care

As part of a 2016 Labour manifesto commitment, the amount of savings and assets a person can keep before needing to pay for residential care out of their own pocket has been raised to £50,000.

Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan (Lab, Cardiff North) said: “Wales has the highest capital limit for residential care in the UK. We also have a single limit, which protects all of the capital a person holds at or below £50,000. This is in contrast to England, for example, where a two-tier capital limit system operates with its upper limit frozen at £23,250 for almost the past decade.”

Welsh Lib Dem leader calls for second Brexit referendum at their spring conference

At the Welsh Lib Dems’ spring conference in Cardiff, the leader of the part in Wales, Jane Dodds, continued to press the case for a second referendum on Brexit, saying on her party were at the heart of the moment demanding a second vote.

She said: “Whatever’s agreed we need to ensure that people are given the final say on Brexit with a People’s Vote. Brexiteers and Remainers will not have voted for what’s being put to parliament, the people must be given the final say.”

Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), announced the pupil development grant will receive an additional £3.4million boost. The grant will be used to cover the cost of school uniforms and PE kits for pupils from deprived backgrounds.

Sport “worth £3.4billion to Wales”

A study commissioned by Sport Wales has revealed that sport was worth £3.4billion to Wales in economic, social and health benefits. It also revealed that for every £1 spent on sport and physical activity, £2.88 in additional benefits were accrued. The research did, however, omit the cost of sports-related injuries and illnesses.

Sport Wales’ policy director, Owen Hathway said the research underpinned sport’s contribution to the Future Generations Act and “how sport can, and does, support health outcomes, employability, social cohesion, the volunteer sector, crime prevention and beyond”.

Farmers union calls for new livestock attack law

The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) has called for penalties for livestock attacks to increase following a number of sheep losses to dog attacks. 103 attacks have been reported in the North Wales, Dyfed Powys and Gwent police force areas.

Dog owners can be fined up to £1,000 and their dog could potentially be shot by farmers if deemed a threat, but the union and rural crime teams have said advances in forensic science haven’t been fully accounted for in existing laws – which in the case of control of dogs are non-devolved to Wales.

AMs linked to homophobic pastor

Two Conservative AMs – Darren Millar AM (Con, Clwyd West) and Russell George AM (Con, Montgomery) – have been called upon to cut ties with the Evans Roberts Institute after a Singaporean-based Pentecostal pastor (who has financial links to the Institute), Yang Tuck Yoong, called homosexuality a “sin and abomination” and also suggested a global conspiracy of organised homosexuality.

It’s been revealed the Institute has held events on the Senedd estate to which AMs from other parties attended. Russell George defended his involvement with the church, saying: “Just because you do business with someone it doesn’t mean you have to share all of their views. None of the charity’s trustees condones homophobia or discrimination of any kind.”