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Benefit payment: Company promises to 'get it right'

The head of the company which assesses people for their eligibility to access Personal Independence Payments has apologised.

It comes as Welsh MP, Susan Elan Jones, is holding a debate in Westminster about the new benefit payment scheme.

She says there have been unacceptable delays in assessing people and paying them benefits.

Stephen Duckworth, the Chief Executive of Capita Personal Independence Payments, says: "We've invested significantly more to get it right, and we will get it right."

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Addicted to shopping: Welsh mum spends £200k in 10 years

Vicki Appleton from Cardiff says her addiction started when she was 13 Credit: Dimitris Legakis/Athena Picture Agency Ltd

Shopping is an expensive habit for many of us, but for one Welsh woman, it almost cost her life.

Mother-of-one Vicki Appleton from Cardiff, started her obsessive shopping when she was just 13 years old, splurging her £20 wages on clothes, bags and sweets.

By the time she left school, her addiction had escalated, taking out loans and credit cards to satisfy her shopping urges.

In the years that followed the 29-year-old managed to rack up a bill of over £200,000, including spending £25,000 on a round the world trip.

She said,

"When I was 20, I went into a travel agents' to see if there were any cheap deals. By the time I left I'd spent £10,000 on a round the world trip, complete with dozens of first class flights."

But, her addiction eventually led her to try to take her own life.

In October 2013, Vicki admitted admit herself to a psychiatric unit.

She says she's now trying to get her life back on track.

"Now I'm desperately trying to control my addiction for Eli's sake. I'm unsure exactly how much I owe to creditors but I know there's around £30,000 of things I haven't paid for."

"I haven't paid any of my household bills for two years and I'm so terrified of being left alone with my credit cards that I've made my brother move in.

Some women might think retail therapy is a bit of harmless fun, but it almost claimed my life."

Wales TUC: 'Pay has been squeezed at all levels'

Wales TUC says nearly a quarter of jobs in Wales pay less than the living wage.

Their General Secretary, Martin Mansfield said working families are facing the biggest pressures since Victorian times.

Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom and it's costing our economy dear.

The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are leading the way in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it as part of a fairer overall deal at work.

Workers in Wales need to see a far greater commitment to pay the living wage from employers, and the UK Government needs to act now to introduce modern wages councils, which could set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more.

– Martin Mansfield, Wales TUC General Secretary

Nearly a quarter of jobs 'pay less than the living wage'

The living wage stands at £7.65 per hour across the UK. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Wales TUC says close to a quarter of jobs in Wales pay less than the living wage.

Their analysis of official figures revealed 23% of Welsh workers are paid below the living wage - a higher share than in any other UK nation or region.

It also found the concentration of low paid work varies across parliamentary constituencies.

For example, Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Rhondda top the table of pay blackspots with 39.9% and 39.7% of those working locally, earning below the living wage respectively.

For working women, the picture is even bleaker, with around 46% of women working in Dwyfor Meirionydd taking home less than the living wage.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the National Minimum Wage.

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Catch up: Wales This Week, The cost of Working

by Alun Jones

Fifteen years ago, the UK Government introduced the National Minimum Wage - it was then £3.60 an hour. Later this year it will rise to £6.50, but is that really enough to live on? The startling fact is that most people claiming benefits here in Wales actually go to work.

In this week's programme, Wales This Week looks at working Wales and asks: What is the real cost of working?

Wales This Week is on Monday's at 8 on ITV Cymru Wales

You can follow us on Twitter via @walesthisweek or like our facebook page

Can we afford a 'Living Wage'?

by Alun Jones
Crowds
266,000 people in Wales are earning less than they need to achieve a good standard of living Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

According to recent statistics, the average wage in Wales has been reduced by over £30 a week in real terms, since 2010. That’s a loss of £1,600 each year, and it’s left many struggling to find the income they need to get by.

The vast majority of the welfare budget in Wales is claimed by people in work, people who had often assumed that a job would cover their cost of living, and that alone is making many of us ask if work really does pay.

"I never thought that I would be applying for benefits from the government. As a full time public service worker I would expect to manage on my income"

- Ryan Jones, Public Sector Worker

A series of events is being run this week as a part of Wales TUC’s Fairplay Fortnight - a campaign aimed at addressing the issue of low wages in Wales, which has the lowest average wage across the UK at £520.70 a week.

Like many others, the TUC believe that the answer is simple - an increase in the National Minimum Wage to an amount which would take the cost of living into account - an amount referred to as the ‘Living Wage’.

This so-called ‘Living Wage’ is an independent calculation based on the UK cost of living. It’s currently £7.65 an hour for jobs outside London.

"Something that’s often not recognised is that the living wage would actually save the treasury quite considerable sums of money on housing benefit, council tax benefit or working tax credits."

- Victoria Winckler, Living Wage Commission

But there are many within the business community who would disagree that a move to the Living Wage would offer the solutions we need. They say that small businesses in particular would struggle to raise their wage costs by such a large amount and as a result we may cause more damage than good.

Wales This Week, The Cost of Working is on Monday 31st March at 8 on ITV Cymru Wales

You can follow Wales This Week on Twitter via @walesthisweek or like our facebook page

Wales This Week: The Cost of Working

by Alun Jones

Fifteen years after the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, Wales This Week takes a look at working Wales, and asks what is the real cost of working?

Recent statistics from the Wales TUC have revealed that the average weekly wage in Wales has actually reduced in real terms by over £30 per week since 2010, so should we consider a move towards the Living Wage, and is this something we can afford?

Wales This Week: The Cost of Working is on Monday 31st March at 8pm on ITV Cymru Wales

You can follow Wales This Week on Twitter via @walesthisweek or like our Facebook page.

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