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Workplace inequality affects economy

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Workplace equality: Could grow economy by 10%

INFLEXIBLE workplace structures, gendered assumptions about childcare, and wide-scale discrimination mean mothers are more likely to be trapped in part-time, low-paid work with fewer opportunities for career progression.

Those are the findings of a National Assembly committee which has been looking at the issue.

The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee believe such factors are key causes of gender inequality and represent a loss to the economy.
The UK Government’s Women’s Business Council estimates that equalising the employment rates of women and men could grow the UK economy by more than 10% by 2030.

The employment rate for women with dependent children in Wales is 75%, compared to 91% for men with dependent children.

The gender pay gap between men and women in Wales is 15% for all employees (full and part time).

A 2016 survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that Welsh employers lag behind England and Scotland in offering flexible working.

The same survey found that 87% of employers in Wales feel it is in the best interests of organisations to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave. But it also found that 71% of mothers reported negative or discriminatory experiences as a result of having children.

Employment law isn’t devolved to Wales but the Committee focused on the levers at the Welsh Government’s disposal including employment of public sector workers and businesses and organisations in receipt of public funding,

“During the course of our inquiry we heard some shocking individual experiences: women who lost their jobs during maternity leave, careers derailed because of the lack of flexible work, and fathers prevented from taking on caring responsibilities because of cultural attitudes,” said John Griffiths AM, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.

“These stories have directly influenced our conclusions and recommendations.

“Preventing a large proportion of the population from contributing their skills and experience to the workforce is not fair and does not make economic sense.

“In light of technological, social and economic changes, now is the time to modernise workplaces so that they are fit for the future for everyone, not just parents.

“We believe the Welsh Government can set a standard in promoting flexible working, ensuring organisations in receipt of public funding are flexible by default and by reassessing its new childcare offer.”

The Committee makes 34 recommendations in its report, including:

  • That the Welsh Government should advertise public sector jobs (including teaching posts) as ‘flexible by default’, and lead the way by allowing senior roles like Ministers and councillors to be job-shared;
  • Strengthening the obligations on organisations receiving public funding to provide flexible working and report on the retention rates of staff returning from maternity leave;
  • The Committee heard that the Welsh Government’s new Childcare Offer was unlikely to achieve its main aim of increasing maternal employment in the most effective way. It recommended the Government reconsider the target age group and the income threshold; and,
  • the Welsh Government improve advice services in Wales, and that information about rights and obligation at work should be provided to women at an early stage of pregnancy.

The report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.

Business

Covid 19 grants for small businesses

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COUNCILLOR PAUL MILLER, the Authority’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Tourism, Leisure and Culture, has announced that applications for business support grants can be made from today (March 27, 2020).

Access to the online application form can be found on the Council’s Business webpage via the following link:
https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/business-advice-and-support

You can email other business enquiries about the impacts of Covid 19 via the following email address: covid19businesssupport@pembrokeshire.gov.uk
Councillor Miller said: “The team have been working flat out to get this scheme up and running as we know just how important this support is to business right now.
“Government has promised the cash will be with us by the 1st April and the second it is, we’ll be distributing that support to our businesses.”

The following grants are available to small businesses to support the costs associated with the impact of Covid 19 on their businesses as follows:
• small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
• grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
Councillor Miller added: “I know our local businesses are doing all they can to sustain jobs and livelihoods. Our job is to get assistance to them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“While our application form wasn’t the first to go live – we were hoping not to need an application at all – we have developed an automated system which will allow us to begin making payments, into businesses bank accounts, the minute funds arrive from Government.”

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Business

St Clears McDonald’s gets go ahead

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THE REFUSAL of a planning application for a McDonald’s near St Clears could provide very costly for Carmarthenshire County Council after the Planning Inspectorate permitted an appeal and awarded costs to a development company.
The Planning Inspectorate’s ruling also states the developer is no longer bound by an undertaking to improve pedestrian access by improving a pedestrian crossing in St Clears.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Committee voted to deny the application on Thursday, September 19 last year.

Council officers recommended approval of the scheme, which caused an uproar in the community. There were around 270 objections to the planned McDonald’s and Costa Coffee against 28 broadly in favour of it.

Officers told councillors the alterations to the road layout around the restaurant would benefit an un-associated housing development scheduled for land adjacent to the site. The 50-home building scheme is within St Clears’ development limit.

Surprisingly for a business intending to make a profit from users accessing the site solely by car, planning officers accepted the contention that any increase in traffic would be marginal without addressing why – if such were the case – such a large site was needed for the restaurant and coffee house.

At the Planning Committee meeting, councillors expressed concerns about the traffic impact on the town and the impact on local businesses. However, the sole reason for denying the application was that the plans were for land outside – but immediately next to – the Local Development Plan limits for St Clears.

At the time, the Chair of the Council’s Planning Committee, Cllr Alun Lenny, sought advice from the Head of Planning whether the issue raised by councillors was a material planning consideration. Llinos Quelch confirmed the development’s location was not necessarily a determining factor.

She continued to explain economic development land was not always within the LDP boundaries. That did not mean it was a straightforward refusal as the officer had set out his reasons why the development overrode the boundary consideration.

Cllr Alun Lenny expressed concerns about the reasons being advanced for refusal. However, despite the clear advice from the Head of Planning, Committee members voted unanimously to reject the plans.

The only dissenting vote coming from Cllr Lenny, who again expressed concern the reasons advanced for rejection might not stand up to an appeal.

Cllr Lenny’s concerns about his fellow councillors’ actions proved amply justified.

The Planning Inspector noted that the plans were for a location directly opposite an existing Travelodge and that economic development was a material consideration which overrode the Planning Committee’s sole objection regarding the boundary of the development area.

He also said: “Although located outside the development limits identified in the LDP, the prevailing character of the site’s environs is edge-of-settlement rather than open countryside, with visible development close by in most directions.

“The locality does not possess any designation indicating any special landscape sensitivity or value. Moreover, the developed character of the site’s environs is likely to be reinforced as the housing site on its north-east side is delivered. Given the presence of this housing allocation, the appeal proposal would not result in a materially harmful erosion of the gap separating the development limits of St Clears and Pwll Trap. ln summary, the proposal would relate well to the existing built form of the locality and would not harm the area’s character and appearance.”

While dismissing the reason given by the Council for rejecting the proposal, the Inspector also said competition between businesses – to which many local objections related – was not a material planning consideration.

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Business

Young Tenby-based currency trader making £8k a day

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BBC ONE Wales show ‘Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted’ will feature Pembrokeshire-based currency trader Ashley Richards this week.

The successful young entrepreneur, who lives in Tenby, fuels a life of fast cars and expensive watches by making thousands of pounds per-day with just a few simple phone calls.

Ashley, 20, has been trading online for 4 years and discovered that he’d failed his GCSE exams on the same day that he also made £470 trading currency online.

“That’s the day I first found out that I could make money without any GCSEs or qualifications,” says Ashley confidently.

“I’ve always thought that I would want to do business at university and I was thinking to myself, ‘What’s the point of learning how to do business when you can do it and learn on the job?'”

From there, Ashley launched into a risky career that has given him an incredible £200,000 a year since.

Ashley spends his money on cars, he currently owns 4 including a BMW i8 that cost a staggering £115,000, but never forgets the Pembrokeshire council estate he grew up on, returning to visit regularly so he never forgets his roots.

A spokesperson for the show told The Herald “Ashley is living the fantasy life from his seaside home in Tenby.

Armed with only his laptop and a mobile, he has been known to bring home £8,000 in one day by trading currency online. He supports his appetite for fast cars and designer watches working just two hours a day, but with his mates all working full time, it can be a lonely place to be.”

A high risk career like currency trading can involve losing money, something Ashley is more than aware of: “You’ve got to have it in the back of your mind that you can possibly lose money. I’ve lost money before, but how I look at it is that I’ve just profited less than I would’ve.”

Ashley also uses his new found wealth to help his mother out “It’s every son’s or daughter’s dream to be able to really treat their parents. It is really nice.

“My mum has definitely done her bit so it’s only fair that I reward her. That’s one of the main reasons why I work so hard because I just want to make sure my family has an easier life.”

Ashley’s amazing story is on ‘Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted’ which will air on BBC One Wales tonight (Feb 24) at 10:35pm

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