Bridgend Labour Councillors, including the Mayor of BCBC, Cllr Stuart Baldwin, are today in the centre of a fake news controversy after posting misleading Facebook posts.
On Thursday, 4th June 2020, the ‘Labour 4 Bridgend’ Facebook page ran a story implying that Bridgend MP, Dr Jamie Wallis had refused to contact Ministers to discuss the £500 bonus paid to care staff during the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, Labour councillors did not include the response from Dr. Wallis that included a letter from a Treasury Minister to the Welsh Government about the bonus, clearly indicating that Dr. Wallis did reach out to the Treasury to discuss the matter.
Dr Jamie Wallis MP said “Care staff in Bridgend work so hard, and deserve better than a set of Labour Councillors determined to mislead them and omit relevant information. The fact is, as the Treasury made clear, is that if the intention was for care staff to receive £500, they should have given them a bigger bonus to begin with.”
Dr. Wallis added “I have published both the claims made by the Labour Party and the reply I have issued in full on my website so that all Bridgend constituents can see it, to clear this whole mess up, and they can decide for themselves who is telling the truth here.”
Labour refuses to apologise
To compound matters for under-pressure Labour Councillors, Cllr Tom Giffard, who is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Bridgend County Borough Council, asked Cllr Baldwin to publish the claims in full.
When asked whether he would apologise if the evidence suggested that the initial claims would prove untrue, Cllr Baldwin said “Never assume anything.”
Dr. Jamie Wallis said “The truth is, Labour got caught with their hands in the till. They never thought they would be called out on their misleading assertions, and now that they have, it is time they withdrew it and apologised.”
A copy of the email that was sent is below – you can also see the letter that was sent from the UK Government in the attachment below.
Many thanks for contacting me about the Welsh Government’s Carers Bonus.
I value the contribution of social care workers, particularly during the current crisis. We also understand that the collective response to Covid-19 needs to be UK-wide, which is why the UK Government has provided over £2.2bn of funding for the Welsh Government to support people, businesses, and public services.
The Welsh Government announced plans to pay Social Care workers a bonus of £500 last month.
Payments made in connection with employment are chargeable to income tax and National Insurance contributions unless there is a specific provision to exempt them.
Given that this WG payment functions as a top-up to carers’ wages, Her Majesty’s Treasury considers it is taxable as earnings under normal rules. Exempting this payment would require primary legislation.
If the intention is for carers to benefit by at least £500, it is up to the Welsh Government to gross up the payment to take into account the tax liabilities.
I have also attached a letter sent by the UK Government to the Welsh Government for you to see.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me on this important issue.