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Casual and part-time workers: Most vulnerable to job loss

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A NEW series of reports that focus on the effects of Coronavirus on employment in Wales was published on Thursday, May 27, by Public Health Wales.

Young people, and those in precarious work have been identified as being especially vulnerable to employment changes caused by the pandemic, with mental wellbeing and struggles to find or keep work cited as major concerns.

Many young people are unaware of the support that is already available and how to access it, suggesting a greater need for organisations to engage with young people on a deeper level, to find solutions to the barriers they face for gaining good, fair employment –critical for people’s good health and wellbeing.

FURLOUGH HAD UNEQUAL IMPACT

Dr Benjamin Gray, Public Health Researcher at Public Health Wales, said: “18-29-year-olds are the age group with the highest proportion placed on furlough (41%) and 2.5 times more likely to have been placed on furlough than the 40-49 years age group and as such risk an uncertain future. Furlough could potentially mask a longer-term impact of Covid-19 on unemployment, and this is a concern, especially amongst this age group.”

Dr Ciarán Humphreys, Consultant in Public Health with the Wider Determinants of Health Unit at Public Health Wales, said: “Young people have told us they have been hit by a multitude of factors that will potentially have long-lasting effects on their employment prospects.

“It’s not just about being in work, though. It is the nature, quality, and long-term prospects of that work – good, fair work, that’s so important for people’s health. We saw this impact play out in the study.

“Some working young people we heard from struggled with the impacts of work changes outside their control on their mental wellbeing, whereas most of those in stable employment generally felt well, supported by their employer, and confident about the future.

“We know that at UK, Wales and local levels there have been important actions taken to mitigate the impact of these employment changes. However, some of these are expected to come to an end.

“A clear message from our work is that it will take a range of approaches to support young people responding to the employment challenges of the pandemic, to improve health.

“Action can be taken at national, regional and local level. Employers, too, have an important role in helping young people into good quality work, and that includes public sector organisations.

“If we are to safeguard future health we will need to work collaboratively and effectively, involving young people.”

The reports are the first in a series of planned employment analysis by the Public Health Wales Population Health programme exploring the impact of Coronavirus on the Welsh labour market and will help inform policy and decision-makers.

Further phases of the research will look at how challenges could be addressed as the economy reopens and recovers, so that those most at risk of longer-term harm from the crisis can secure decent quality future employment, training, and education.

Key findings across the reports were:

•             Around a quarter of a million workers were employed in shutdown sectors in Wales (18 per cent of all workers) at the outset of the pandemic with young workers (aged 16-24) much more likely to be employed in shutdown sectors (36 per cent compared to 11 per cent of those aged 35-64).

•             Young people faced varied and complex challenges due to the pandemic. In addition to the challenge in gaining, retaining, and partaking in good, fair work, issues raised included the effects of the temporary lockdown, such as disruption of vocational learning and home-schooling, or exacerbation of pre-existing issues such as the nature of employment for young people, Brexit and reported lower uptake of universal credit.

•             Those who work in low-paid, insecure work have less protection and rights due to the ‘flexible’ nature of their jobs. Young people are chief among these due to the specific sectoral trends in employment contract types. These employment changes have also translated into significantly different impacts for distinct groups, with those living in deprived areas of Wales appearing to have fared worst.

•             There is substantial uncertainty about the future, especially when government schemes such as furlough come to an end as these cushioned the economic pain caused by the pandemic.

•             Young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and are likely to feel the effects for some time with concerns over scarring effects on job prospects and the potential for higher tax in the future to pay for the financial support schemes introduced by the Government during the pandemic.

•             While interventions are perceived by decision-makers and influencers to be available, apart from the furlough scheme, young people in this study did not, on the whole, appear familiar with them or accessing the support.

•             It will be critical to ensure young people are involved in the development of future support.

•             Evidence suggests that labour market policies can substantially impact the health of both the employed and unemployed populations in a positive way.

•             A range of policies are linked with improved mental and physical health outcomes, as well as reduced health inequalities; however, some, such as benefit sanctions, have been linked to either no health benefit or even harm.

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Businesses will soon be able to access funding from the Welsh Government

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BUSINESSES in Pembrokeshire which have been impacted by the move to Alert Level 2 Covid-19 measures in Wales will soon be able to register or apply for Welsh Government funding.

The First Minister announced a £120m package of support for nightclubs, events, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses and their supply chains, impacted by the move to Alert Level 2.

An eligibility checker for businesses has now gone live.

Businesses are urged to check their eligibility at: https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/businesssupport?_ga=2.234856926.1944247233.1641292011-360841121.1641292011

The above link also features further information and a series of FAQs about the latest round of support.

The funding will take the form of three elements.

Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked funding of up to £6,000.

Retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business who pay Non Domestic Rates will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

Businesses will need to re-register their details with Pembrokeshire County Council through an online process in order to receive their payments.

The Council will also deliver a discretionary fund to support sole traders, freelancers and businesses who don’t pay rates, with funding of £500 – £2000.

The Local Authority discretionary fund will be via a short application process with sole traders, freelancers and taxi drivers able to apply for £500 and businesses that employ people but do not pay business rates will be able to apply for £2,000.

Pembrokeshire County Council plans to open the schemes on Monday 10th January for the NDR related fund and Monday 17th January for the Discretionary fund.

See notes below for further information on the way the NDR linked grant and discretionary fund will be allocated.

The third element of the funding is a reopening of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

On top of NDR based funding, this will see funds of up to £25,000 made available for severely impacted hospitality and leisure businesses – and their supply chains.

As with previous ERF rounds, this will support businesses who have seen a reduction in their turnover of more than 60%.

Details of the application and registration process will be published on the Authority’s Business Advice and Support pages: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

The funding package is designed to support businesses impacted by the spread of Omicron through the period 13 December 2021 to 14 February 2022.

Please note that as a result of the new emergency support packages, the Welsh Government is withdrawing its £35m Business Support Fund, announced in November, in order to process emergency payments as soon as possible.

Any expressions of interest received will be notified of this directly.

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Business

£120m financial support for businesses in Wales impacted by Omicron

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BUSINESSES in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus will be eligible for emergency financial support under a new Welsh Government support package.

The Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced the details of the £120m funding which will be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains affected by the move to alert level two, as announced by the First Minister on Wednesday 22 December.

Under the latest package, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business who pay Non Domestic Rates will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value. Businesses will need to re-register their details, through a quick and easy online process, with Pembrokeshire County Council in order to receive their payments.

Registration will open via local authority website from the week commencing January 10, 2022

The Welsh Government has decided to extend this support to non-essential retail so that smaller shops, and Travel Agents will be supported and our high streets can continue to thrive. In England, support is not available to non-essential retail.

In addition, impacted hospitality and leisure businesses and their supply chains will be able to apply for top up funding from a new Economic Resilience Fund (ERF). Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500k – £25,000, with grants dependent on their size and number of employees. The application window for ERF will open in week commencing 17th January 2022 with payments starting to reach businesses within days.

Local Authorities will also administer a Discretionary fund for business and sole traders who do not pay rates. The fund will provide £500 to sole trader and freelancers and £2,000 to employing businesses in impacted sectors.  Further details to follow on business.wales.

An eligibility checker which will help businesses to gauge how much they can expect to receive under the new support package will be available on the Business Wales website by the start of 2022.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “We fully understand the continued challenges faced by businesses, however we are facing a very serious situation in Wales. A wave of infections caused by the new, fast-moving and very-infectious omicron variant is headed our way, this means taking early action to try and control its spread – and limit the impact on Welsh businesses.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve provided over £2.2bn of support to businesses throughout Wales to help them manage their way through difficult circumstances.

“We will continue to monitor the impact of the spread of Omicron on businesses in Wales, and will consider whether additional emergency funding is needed in the new year.”

Business.Wales will be updated with details, frequently asked question and support guidance.

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Business

Seeking advisors from Ceredigion Businesses – Your chance to get involved with the Mid Wales Growth Deal

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Growing Mid Wales logo

ARE you a strategic business leader in Ceredigion and are you passionate and committed to the interests of Mid Wales? If so, you are the business leader we are looking for!

The Growing Mid Wales Board is setting up an independent body, the Economic Advisory Group, to help advise on the Mid Wales Growth Deal Portfolio of programmes and projects – to ensure it delivers tangible outcomes for our economy.

The new advisory group will provide business sector experience and knowledge to help assess the various proposals as they move through to the next stages of development.

We’re looking for Industry Leaders from all sectors who are able to demonstrate strategic thinking and have significant direct business leadership experience to help advise the direction of the strategic Portfolio.

For a conversation about the opportunity, email Paul Griffiths, Growth Deal Adviser: paul.griffiths2@powys.gov.uk.

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