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Best-loved imports include fajitas and chilli con carne

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Spaghe-Bolog_793727cGOOGLE, fajitas and chilli con carne have emerged on a list of Wales best-loved imports, research revealed yesterday. 

A poll of 2,000 adults also saw Disney, French croissants, and Chinese food placed high on the list of things from other countries that have become a key part of everyday life. Research shows that the way to Brits hearts is through their stomach, with fajitas and spaghetti bolognese also appearing in the top 50 best-loved imports. The research, commissioned by experts in world food, Santa Maria, found 27 of the top 50 people, places and brands that we’ve adopted as our own were food-related items, showing the country’s passion for international food is ever-growing. Alongside our love of food, the passion for technology is clear – Google is a way of life with devotion to Facebook and iPhones also common and all three finishing high. And our love of great entertainment is also easy to spot – Friends, Sex and the City, Breaking Bad and even the adventures of Hercule Poirot have enthralled the region via the small screen. Yesterday a spokesman for Santa Maria said: ‘’The list shows a wide and varied array of things that have really had an impact on life in the UK and become a part of the culture here. “The rise of spicier food especially Fajitas and Nachos, shows the growing desire in UK consumers to pair flavour stimulation with the calming counterpart of corn based staple food notes – a balance perfectly delivered in Mexican style foods.” “The rise of tastier and more varied foods from Chinese through to Fajitas, which featured in the top 10 favourites, shows how consumers in the UK want tasty foods with more rapid flavour changes, texture spikes and challenges.” The international sex appeal of George Clooney and Brad Pitt sees them established as a part of British culture, while Kylie Minogue is also treasured. And the inimitable style of Quentin Tarantino’s big-screen films sees him included in the list of the best things from overseas. While we do love a touch of glamour – fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel perfume also appeared on the list. Narrowly missing out on the top 50 was legendary French footballer Eric Cantona and muscle-man Arnold Schwarzenegger, while the TV soap neighbours and website Buzz Feed also just missed out. The research showed the extent to which Brits fill their lives with international products one in five people currently watches more American TV shows than British. In fact more than a third of Brits were more likely to eat meals that originated overseas than they were to eat British classics like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie in a typical week. And when it comes to eating the British sense of adventure is growing with seven in ten feeling the range of foods eaten is wider than ever before. In terms of flavour, Brits palates are changing with Brits declaring themselves big fans of spicy food. Perhaps there’s no surprise then that eating out at Mexican, Chinese or Indian restaurants was found to be just as popular as choosing to eat in a pub, results showed. Taste psychologist, Greg Tucker, who worked with Santa Maria on the campaign said: ‘’The acquisition of foreign stimuli has long been an accepted part of UK life. Despite what many think it is actually true that the UK has a very open character to acquiring and making their own a whole range of foreign influences. ‘’The growing love for things such as Chinese, Mexican and Caribbean food has developed in a way in which they have become integrated into the British psyche and way of life. ‘’What was foreign to previous generations is fast becoming a part of life in 21st Century Britain – and this process will continue and accelerate as these new sauces and tastes become adopted in the household and children are exposed to them at a younger age.’’

10 BEST-LOVED IMPORTS IN WALES 

1. Spaghetti Bolognaise 41% 

2. Chinese food 40% 

3. Google 39% 

4. Disney 30%

 5. Facebook 28% 

6. Pasta 29% 

7. Fajita 29% 

8. Chilli con carne 26% 

9. McDonald’s 26% 

10. Friends 22%

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Business

Welsh Government releases additional £100M business support

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The latest phase of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund has benefited from the release of a further £100million from ministers within 72 hours of launch, due to a massive demand.

More than 6,000 grant applications from small and medium sized businesses and social enterprises were received within 24 hours of the launch on Friday – an unprecedented response, revealing the scale of the challenges facing Welsh businesses.

The Fund aims to complement and fill the gaps left by UK Government schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme, with grants of up to £10,000 for micro-enterprises and up to £100,000 for SMEs and a light touch appraisal system designed to get money to businesses with the minimum of delay – as well as a new loan fund administered by the Development Bank of Wales.

Less than three weeks since the First Minister announced the intention to create the Fund, the Welsh Government has released a further £100 million, taking the grant fund to £300 million. This will supplement this latest phase of support, providing non-repayable grants to microbusinesses, SMEs and those large businesses of critical, social or economic importance to Wales.

The Fund has been warmly received by trade union and business organisations, with the Institute of Directors calling it ‘very welcome news for business owners and managers who are desperate for all the help they can get at this difficult time’. The South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce has called ‘the rapid response to date’ of the Welsh Government in supporting the economy of Wales ‘impressive’. The Wales TUC welcomed ‘additional funding to address the gaps’.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said:  “We knew that even with the help offered by initiative such as the Job Retention Scheme, there was a massive need for quick access to grant funding if Welsh businesses were to survive this unprecedented economic shock. Whilst in order to make the scheme quick and simple we needed to take tough decisions over eligibility – like requiring businesses to be registered for VAT as a way of having to check on their trading history – it is clear from the level of response received that the Economic Resilience Fund is plugging a gap in UK Government support and providing much needed financial reassurance to many businesses at this challenging time. We will continue to review support and consider how we can develop it over the coming days.

“The rate of applications has been massive and unprecedented. This is the second time in a matter of weeks that access to Welsh Government funds aimed at easing cash flow pressures for Welsh business have quickly reached capacity, and we have responded with pace to release a further £100m into this phase of the fund.

“In these difficult and demanding economic times we have worked hard to free up resources to create such a large Fund despite the huge demands on our budget, and to strike a balance between supporting as many enterprises as possible and making a meaningful contribution to each one’s survival, as well as asking each recipient to sign up to the principles of the economic contract.

“Though we applaud much of what the UK Government has done, there is an urgent need to see more of the promised lending guaranteed by the UK Government getting to the front line. The UK Government must continue to support and press the high street banks to be much more responsive to the needs of our businesses at this difficult time.”

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said: “The Economic Resilience Fund is part of more than £2bn of support that we have made available to help businesses and charities during these incredibly difficult times.

“We know that support for business is crucially important but whilst we are doing everything we can in Wales to plug any gaps and provide the best possible financial support to businesses, it is clear there are further steps that the UK Government needs to urgently take.”

The Economic Resilience offers financial support to help businesses, charities and social enterprises deal with the coronavirus crisis and will be vital in helping organisations manage cash flow pressures. It is a unique additional funding stream for Wales and was designed to address gaps not currently met by schemes already announced by the UK Government, Welsh Government and Development Bank of Wales.

The first stage of the Fund saw the £100 million Development Bank of Wales’ loan scheme fully subscribed in little more than a week. Applications are currently being processed and some businesses have already received funding. It is anticipated that the Development Bank will have processed all applications received within the month.

To ensure that money reaches businesses as quickly as possible more than 120 additional Welsh Government and Business Wales staff have been diverted onto processing applications and supporting businesses and organisations in this latest stage of the Fund.

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Business

Smarter working for a smarter workforce

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THE WAY an organisation responds to challenges is testament to its values, its planning and its employees.

Covid-19 has gathered pace which has been unprecedented – and is a situation that the majority of us could never have anticipated.

Facing this pandemic and being prepared has been a challenge for all tiers of Government – but Pembrokeshire County Council’s capability to reposition its workforce is thanks to embracing the Smarter Working approach.

Our investment in technology has enabled the organisation to have more than 750 staff working flexibly to keep vital services running.

Introduced in the summer of 2018, the Smarter Working project is about harnessing the potential of flexible working in a strategic way, to deliver benefits both for employees and the business.

It is well-recognised that the principles of Smarter Working acknowledge that technology and flexible working patterns are changing the way we work for the better.

Councillor Neil Prior, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transformation and IT said: “The Council’s employees understand that we are in a fast-changing communication and technology world.

“Culture and behaviour change has enabled us as an organisation to benefit from the advances in IT and an improved flexible use of our estate.

“I’d like to thank the IT team who have been working incredibly hard to support our Business Continuity planning. The investment we have made in technology over the last couple of years has meant that we’ve been able to see a greater number of staff work from home, which is exactly in line with the Government’s advice to ‘work from home where possible’.

“I would also like to thank staff who have adjusted their working patterns and are going over and above in their efforts to prepare our County to respond in the best possible way to the current situation.”

The world of work is changing, and people no longer need be tied to a desk. Pembrokeshire County Council can now work smarter, in a way that saves money, time and improves productivity.

As part of the Council’s approach to smarter working and refining the estate – two key changes were implemented.

The conversion of Haverfordia House – which previously accommodated staff – into a reablement centre also enabled the Council to list the Cherry Grove building in Haverfordwest as surplus to requirements, ensuring cost avoidance over the next 10 years stretching into millions of pounds.

Regarding the response specifically to Covid-19 – the stats are impressive. They include:

  • 95 per-cent of IT department working remotely
  • Skype – average unique users logged in: 1,200
  • almost 14,000 one-to-one skype sessions – this equates to more than 1,200 conferences and in excess of 60,000 audio and video minutes used
  • figures showcase the Council’s ability to enable its staff to work flexibly and keep vital services running
  • Community Hub has received more than 700 calls
  • the Council’s Cabinet is continuing to meet via videoconferencing.

Councillor Prior added: “We take pride in the relationships that we are building with our communities – and I am extremely proud of the work that has gone into the planning and the commitment shown by the Council’s staff.

“Pembrokeshire County Council has a history of positive relationships with our colleagues within health, third sector agencies and emergency services – and we are all working together to support each other through this challenging time.”

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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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