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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.

Business

Freeport status ‘key’ to unlocking potential

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FREEPORT status for Pembroke Port could unlock a multitude of employment and economic opportunities for the local area.

That’s the belief of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Senedd candidate Samuel Kurtz.

While freeports are a Westminster policy, the Welsh Government are involved in the process but they have been far from enthusiastic over its potential benefits. 

Commenting, Cllr Samuel Kurtz said: “Freeport status for Pembroke Port would turbo charge the recovery of the local economy, helping to boost employment opportunities for people in Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and the local area.
“That fact that the Labour government in Cardiff have sat on their hands over freeports, while England has already announced its freeport locations, shows the party has little regard for helping the economy recover and grow. 
“This is a key policy that shouldn’t be overlooked simply because of party politics. Recovering from the effects of the pandemic needs collaborative work between Cardiff, London and local authorities.”  

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Business

Port of Milford Haven confirms compliance with National Marine Safety Code

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THE PORT OF MILFORD HAVEN has confirmed its compliance with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC).

The confirmation comes following an audit by leading maritime consultants ABPmer.

The Port Marine Safety Code is a national standard that applies to all harbour authorities. The Code and its accompanying guidance provide an essential toolbox to ensure the control of risk and the maintenance of safety in ports and in the marine environment.

Port of Milford Haven’s Harbourmaster and Marine Director Mike Ryan is proud of the Port’s continued compliance with the Code.

“This is further endorsement and confirmation of everyone’s commitment here at the Port of Milford Haven to providing a safe operation for all port users,” said Mike.

Monty Smedley, ABPmer’s Lead PMSC Auditor, who conducted the audit, said: “I am very pleased to confirm to the Port of Milford Haven’s Board that their harbour operations demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Code, with many examples that we considered to be industry best practice.”

The MCA’s Ports and VTS Policy Manager, James Hannon, who leads PMSC compliance for the UK government said: “The Code is recognised across the industry and has been developed in partnership by the UK government and industry over the last two decades. The resources set out how ports can assess risks, design safety management systems, and also install governance processes to ensure that a Designated Person is able to evaluate controls and report directly to port duty holders and boards.”

The Port of Milford Haven’s Board formally declares its compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code to the MCA every three years.

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Business

Pembrokeshire business encourages others to take advantage of free courses

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IN LIGHT of the recent Welsh Government announcement on the re-opening of the Welsh tourism sector, Wales. A Food Destination is running a number of masterclass sessions tailored for the hospitality sector.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project which specialises in supporting retail and hospitality businesses to source, serve and sell Welsh food and drink through cafes, restaurants, shops, farmers markets, food festivals, B&B’s and tourist attractions.

Throughout April virtual workshop sessions will take place, covering a variety of areas such as local food and drink pairing, breakfast menu inspiration, how to offer the best customer experience possible, through to creating an authentic local eating experience, with a particular focus on sourcing local ingredients.

According to Laura Alexander, co-coordinator for Wales. A Food Destination, the aim is to give a helping hand to those in the sector looking to source, serve and sell Welsh food in a post Covid world,

“It is great that we are able to offer such a diverse range of training opportunities to hospitality businesses in Wales as the sector prepares to re-open. We know that a lot of businesses have been closed for a long time now, and are looking forward to re-opening and refreshing what they have to offer. We are keen to support them with opportunities for learning.

“The masterclass sessions will hopefully assist businesses in recognising how our first rate produce can make their offer even more attractive and help in boosting the sector at such a crucial time.”

One business who have benefitted from attending one of the recent workshops is Melin Tregwynt, based in Haverfordwest.

“It was great to take the time to look at what we can do to prepare for whatever re-opening throws our way this year. Also to be able to access such a brilliant resource of recipes, information and ideas. Thank you to all involved in delivering these courses.”

The good news is that all courses are delivered virtually and are fully funded for any business who sources, serves and sells Welsh food.

For a full list of courses available, please visit https://www.foodskills.cymru/wales-a-food-destination/events/

Wales. A Food Destination project offers fully funded one-to-one consultations, so if you are a retail and hospitality business and are looking for support or advice then please contact Laura Alexander at wales@lantra.co.uk.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project funded by the Welsh Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Its aim is to support businesses source, serve and sell Welsh Food & Drink.

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