Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Psychics are given state funding

Deborah and Paul Rees Photo: www.paulanddeborahrees.com
Paul and Deborah Rees say there's a need for "quality mediums"

A decision to give taxpayers' money to a help a couple set up a business as psychic mediums has been criticised.

Paul and Deborah Rees, from Bridgend, claim they have been given £4,500 from Want2Work, which aims to help people on benefits get back to work.

The Department of Work and Pensions, which runs the scheme with the Welsh Assembly Government, said the money had come from "different areas".

The Taxpayers' Alliance called it a "ridiculous" waste on "mumbo-jumbo".

The assembly government said it was "checking to determine how this unique venture fits in with the aims of the programme".

Want2Work is a scheme which operates in areas of deprivation and poverty in Wales and receives funding from a European social fund.

We're professional at what we do, we train hard and work hard at what we do, we carry very high standards
Paul Rees

It aims to help people on long-term benefits get back to work or set up a business, offering financial support and advice about setting up companies.

"It was something my grandparents did," said Mr Rees, a former upholsterer at a furniture firm.

Mr Rees said he and his wife had worked as mediums for years but had to give up about 18 months ago while Mrs Rees battled a spinal disease and he acted as her carer.

Mrs Rees hit back at critics that it was "hocus pocus" and said it gave people peace within their day to day life.

"If you want to educate yourself and the science behind it, this is becoming a very popular subject - the public are needing it and wanting it at these uncertain times," said Mrs Rees.

Mr Rees added: "Everyone has experienced something in their life - what's changing is people's lives. It's very fashionable now, people are looking for these answers in their lives."

He said they had put in a "lot of work" and a 15-page business plan.

"We are not about playing on people's emotions, we teach, we demonstrate, we provide evidence that's so profound for yourself, that you can't dismiss it."

"We're professional at what we do, we train hard and work hard at what we do, we carry very high standards. We're not fortune tellers. We are mediums. Everyone is a medium in their own right, we just make a living."

It's quite questionable what economic contribution this will make, it's just mumbo-jumbo
Mark Wallace, Taxpayers' Alliance

They said they had received around £4,500 in funding, much of which was to help them train.

The Department of Work and Pensions said the money had come from "different areas".

But Mark Wallace, campaign director of the Taxpayers' Alliance said, whatever the amount, the funding was too much.

"I think it's ridiculous, particularly when every penny of taxpayers' money counts and people are losing their jobs. It's quite questionable what economic contribution this will make, it's just mumbo-jumbo," he said.

"I think it's good to get people back into work but I don't think this is an intelligent use of taxpayers' money."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "Whilst we support the overall Want2Work scheme in its efforts to get people back into gainful employment, we don't administer it.

"We are in the process of checking to determine how this unique venture fits in with the aims of the programme."

A DWP spokesperson said: "We are determined to help everyone who has lost their job get back into work as soon as possible.

"We are supporting people through training, work experience, one-to-one advice and in some cases help to set up their own business.

"Want2Work, the scheme that assisted this couple set up their business, has helped 2,347 people enter the workforce since it began in 2004."



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