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Countdown to apply for a slice of £50,000 community fund

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With just over a week to go until the deadline to apply for a slice of a £50,000 community fund, Wales & West Utilities is urging charities and bodies supporting people affected by the coronavirus pandemic to apply for support.

The gas pipeline and emergency service established the Safe and Warm Fund in response to the crisis to help communities affected by the outbreak with essential funding. Wales & West Utilities has been working hard throughout the pandemic to make sure people are kept safe and warm in their homes and has opened the fund to help others do the same.

Local groups have until 6 July 2020 in which to apply for support.

Wales & West Utilities Chief Executive, Graham Edwards, said:

“The Safe and Warm Fund has been established to directly support organisations working in communities, targeting support at those who need it most.

“We’re encouraging organisations across the area – from food banks to energy efficiency organisations, domestic abuse charities to community transport. Put simply, we want to support those on the frontline and help the most vulnerable people in the community stay safe and warm.”

Organisations and charities can apply for funding between £500 and £5,000. Applicants are encouraged to give details about how the funding will help extend its support to those most in need.

Graham continued:

“One of the most optimistic elements of this pandemic has been seeing the way in which communities have pulled together to support one another and we are hoping that this money will go some way to extending that support.”

Applications will be assessed by a panel consisting of representatives from Wales & West Utilities. For more information on the fund please visit www.wwutilities.co.uk/SafeandWarm.

Wales & West Utilities is also urging people who have received a letter from the NHS advising them to take additional measures to ‘shield’ themselves from Covid19 to consider joining the Priority Service Register (PSR). Joining it allows us energy and utility companies, to look after people who need extra support. It’s free, and you can find out more at www.wwutilities.co.uk/priority

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Corona virus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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Eat Out to Help Out Launches today – with Government paying half on restaurant bills

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FROM today, Monday, August 3, customers will get up to 50% off on bills when visiting participating restaurants, pubs and cafes;

Half price discount will run through August and applies to all food and non-alcoholic drinks consumed on the premises – with Pizza Express, Costa Coffee and Nando’s among thousands signed up.

The scheme, part of the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs, aims to protect jobs in the hospitality sector – which has been hit hard by coronavirus.

Diners across Wales will see their restaurant bills slashed by as much as 50% from today as the government’s landmark Eat Out to Help Out scheme officially opens for business.

Anyone visiting a participating restaurant, café or pub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August will receive the half price discount – keeping more money in hardworking families’ pockets and giving a vital boost to the UK’s hospitality sector.

The scheme – part of the government’s Plan for Jobs that will spur the country’s economic recovery from coronavirus – applies to all food and non-alcoholic drinks, with a maximum discount per person of £10. It could save a family of four up to £40 per meal.

2,084 outlets have so far signed up for the scheme in Wales.

You can check to find outlets in individual towns and cities by downloading the list here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eat-out-to-help-out-scheme-registration-data-for-software-develop

Alternatively, you can use the online restaurant finder to search for participating outlets using a postcode:

https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/eat-out-to-help-out/find-a-restaurant

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Wales has some of the best pubs, cafes and restaurants and our hospitality sector plays a vital role in our economy, employing thousands of people. Recognising the incredible challenges faced by the sector, we are doing everything we can to encourage customers through the door.

“By offering 50% off bills in restaurants, cafes and bars, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme will boost custom, protect jobs and help to kickstart the Welsh economy.

“I hope as many people as possible make the most of this fantastic scheme which is another step in securing the future of Wales’ world-class tourism and hospitality industry.”

More than 72,000 establishments are participating, including independent eateries and family favourites such as Pizza Express, Costa Coffee and Nando’s.

There have already been over 3.3 million hits on the Eat Out to Help Out restaurant finder since it launched last week, which shows what businesses are participating in local areas, and many restaurants have since seen a boost in bookings. Apps like Opentable, Fork and Bookatable are all planning pages to support the scheme.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Our Eat Out to Help Out scheme’s number one aim is to help protect the jobs of 1.8 million chefs, waiters and restaurateurs by boosting demand and getting customers through the door.

“More than 72,000 establishments will be serving discounted meals across the country, with the government paying half the bill. The industry is a vital ingredient to our economy and it’s been hit hard by coronavirus, so enjoy summer safely by showing your favourite places your support – we’ll pay half.”

The scheme will help protect the jobs of the hospitality industry’s 1.8 million employees by encouraging people to safely return to their local restaurants, cafes and pubs where social-distancing rules allow.

Around 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April, with 1.4 million workers furloughed, the highest of any sector.

Many participating restaurants offer healthy and low-calorie options, and the scheme should be enjoyed as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. No vouchers are needed, with the participating establishment deducting 50% from the bill.

People may be worried about returning to eat out. To address these concerns, businesses have prepared to become Covid-secure through, for example, protective screens, contactless payments, social distancing, one way walking systems, online bookings and reduced capacity.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is one part of the Chancellor’s £30 billion Plan for Jobs, announced last month. Other measures announced to protect, support and create jobs include cutting VAT for tourism and hospitality by 15%, a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme and an £8.8 billion investment in new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.

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Ceredigion MP and MS welcome announcement of new broadband pilot scheme launched in Ceredigion

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The UK Government’s Broadband Upgrade Fund campaign has launched this week to help businesses, employees and countryside communities take advantage of all the benefits associated with faster and more reliable internet connections. Ceredigion is one of seven counties across the UK chosen as part of this broadband pilot scheme launched by the UK Government.

Rural residents or businesses in Ceredigion may be eligible for a voucher to support the cost of gigabit-capable broadband in your area. Gigabit-capable broadband connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available, making things like streaming movies, downloading files, and video calls much easier.

Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps will be entitled to a voucher worth £1,500 per home while small to medium-sized business can get up to £3,500 for to support the cost of installing new fast and reliable connections. Funding is only available when used in group projects and groups can be a mix of residents and businesses; just residents or just businesses.

Some premises and businesses across Ceredigion will also be able to benefit from the Welsh Government’s top-up voucher scheme, taking the potential funding for individual premises up to £3,000 and up to £7,000 for businesses.

Responding to the announcement Ben Lake MP said: “Fast, reliable broadband for local homes and businesses is not a luxury, it is essential. It is a necessity for our local businesses and for those in isolated villages to remain connected. Poor broadband has been an issue that has plagued Ceredigion for many years, with disparate levels of service across the county.

“I have campaigned ceaselessly on this issue, raising it repeatedly with the UK Government. I therefore welcome the announcement that premises across Ceredigion will be able to benefit from this newly launched Broadband Upgrade Fund pilot scheme.”

Elin Jones MS added: “I encourage all premises and businesses currently not able to access high-speed broadband to take advantage of this additional funding. Whilst I hope to see swift and substantial progress over the next few months in response to this scheme, we must keep up the pressure on BT, Openreach, Broadband Delivery UK and all levels of government to secure full superfast broadband across Ceredigion. That means continuing the roll-out of high-speed broadband for all homes, including those in hard-to-reach rural areas.”

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New support to help short term unemployed people

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A NEW service has been launched to ensure short term unemployed people in west Wales get the practical hands on support needed to get into work.

The service is delivered by the highly experienced and skilled Workways+ team, they can now support people that have been unemployed for a day or years. This is thanks to an additional investment of £3m EU funds provided through the Welsh Government. STU is available through Workways+ in Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

People accessing the STU service can expect one to one support from an experienced and caring employment mentor. They will work with them to develop their CV, completing job application forms, preparing for interviews and searching for jobs. They may also get fully funded skills training, clothes for interviews, PPE and work clothing. Unemployment can be traumatic and the mentor team understand this. They will help people build their confidence and get work ready. Every one of the mentor team takes great pride in how they help people and are thrilled when the people they help get jobs.

Councillor Catrin Miles, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member for Schools, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Support and Intervention, said: “Practical support like this is invaluable for people experiencing unemployment. We are pleased to be able to support this initiative to assist people facing short-term unemployment, and launching this additional support is very timely given the challenges currently facing people due to the coronavirus restrictions. We trust the scheme will benefit many people.”

Workways+ and STU are funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government and staffed by officers employed by Ceredigion County Council, Neath Port Talbot Council, Carmarthenshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Council.

To find your local office, go to the Workways website: www.workways.wales/?lang=en-gb

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