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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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Business

Applications open for emergency financial support from Economic Resilience Fund

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Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000

BUSINESSES in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus can now apply for emergency financial support from the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething previously said £120 million would be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains affected by the move to alert level 2 announced by the First Minister on Wednesday 22 December.

Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000, with grants dependent on their size and number of employees.

The application window will be open for two weeks, with payments starting to reach businesses within days.

Vaughan Gething

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Following positive engagement with businesses, trades unions and other partners, we recently changed the eligibility criteria for the ERF support. The ERF grant is a Wales-only top up payment that currently supports eligible businesses who have seen a 60% drop in their income between December and February compared with the same period two years ago. The new criteria means that businesses in these sectors who have seen a 50% reduction in their turnover will now also be able to access the ERF.

“This means more businesses will receive more support from the Welsh Government.”

Non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses in Wales can also receive support from the Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked grant which is being administered by local authorities. Businesses will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

Local authorities are also administrating a discretionary fund for sole traders, freelancers and taxi drivers and businesses that employ people but do not pay business rates. Last week this was doubled to £1,000.

The Welsh Government has provided in excess of £2.5bn funding to Welsh businesses since the start of the pandemic. Focused particularly on backing small businesses and Welsh communities, it’s targeted approach has helped protect in excess of 160,000 Welsh jobs which might otherwise have been lost.

Apply for Economic Resilience Fund support here:

COVID-19 Support for Business | Business Wales (gov.wales)

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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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Local charity celebrates the completion of 30 years of service by returning to its roots

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Foothold Cymru staff celebrate 30 years of service.

THE CENTRE for Building Social Action has been supporting communities in West Wales with life’s essentials for over 30 years. To mark this milestone they have decided to return to the name that they started out with: Foothold Cymru.

Many long term supporters of this Carmarthenshire based charity will know that it launched in 1991 and delivered services under the name of Foothold for nearly 20 years. Now as the charity approaches the end of its 30th year it has decided to return to its roots and become Foothold Cymru.

Chief Executive of Foothold Cymru, Mike Theodoulou says: ‘We feel that the name Foothold Cymru perfectly captures the work of our charity, which gives individuals and communities a “secure foothold” from where they can move forward and thrive, not just survive. 

We also know that the name ‘Foothold’ still resonates with many of our long-term supporters and service users, so for us it seemed only natural that we mark the completion of our 30 th year of service by returning to our roots.’

Volunteers at a Foothold Cymru Food Store in Burry Port, Carmarthenshire

Over the last 30 years the charity has supported over a quarter of a million people and secured over £30million for local projects. More recently it reached the milestone of supporting over 500 families to put fresh, healthy food on their tables in the face of increasing energy and food prices. And, at this time of huge social, environmental, and economic upheaval its work has never been more needed.

Its support services are focused around life’s essentials: food, education and work. It provides practical solutions to those struggling to make ends meet with food and clothing, it supports people back to work and it offers alternative opportunities for people to learn. At the heart of its work is a focus on developing services with the communities and individuals most affected by these issues; co-designing and delivering activities for lasting change.

The charity will be marking the completion of its 30th year and the return to the name ‘Foothold Cymru’ with their first ever fundraising campaign, entitled ‘30 Pounds for 30 Years.’

The charity is asking businesses and individuals to donate £30 to support its vital services. That’s £1 for every year it’s been delivering services across Carmarthenshire. By giving £30, supporters will be helping the charity and its work to help families and communities with life’s essentials, things a lot of us take for granted.

Fundraising Manager, Emily Wells says ‘There’s a huge need for the services we’re providing here in West Wales and demand is only going to grow in 2022. We want to be there for everyone who needs our help, and with the generous backing of local businesses and individuals we can do just that’

If you would like to support Foothold Cymru and celebrate their completion of 30 years of service, please visit www.footholdcymru.org.uk and click on the ‘30 Pounds for 30 Years’ banner, or the ‘Donate’ button.

If you, or someone you know, would like support from Foothold Cymru please visit www.footholdcymru.org.uk to find out about all the services they offer and how to access them.

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