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Cost-of-living ‘perfect storm’ has now landed, says Plaid Cymru

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URGENT action is needed to ease the “pain” of cost-of-living crisis as a new report shows millions of families in deep or persistent poverty.

Analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found households on low incomes will be spending on average 18% of their income after housing costs on energy bills after April.

For single adult households on low incomes this rises to a shocking 54%, an increase of 21 percentage points since 2019/20.

Lone parents and couples without children will spend around a quarter of their incomes on energy bills, an increase of almost 10 percentage points in the same period

Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for social justice and equalities has called for Welsh Government to publish an emergency cost-of-living action plan as a “matter of urgency.”

Ms Williams that too many households in Wales are being squeezed between rising costs for everyday items, rising household bills and stagnating wages, and the number of households struggling to pay for everyday items already equals the size of Swansea.

Plaid Cymru will be leading a debate in the Senedd this afternoon (Wednesday 19 January), calling on the Welsh Government to publish an emergency cost-of-living action plan to tackle the pressures caused by the twin problems of surging costs and stagnating wages.

Ms Williams says that alongside the action plan, attention must also be given to food poverty, fuel poverty, household debt and address the well-established links between debt and mental ill-health.

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for social justice and equalities, Sioned Williams MS said,

“This crisis is not just looming – it’s already landed for too many Welsh households.

Rising cost of living, increasing energy costs and stagnating wages are all in the maelstrom of what’s being called the ‘perfect storm.’

“Thousands of households in Wales – equivalent to the whole of Swansea – are already struggling to pay for everyday items. With rising energy costs and tax hikes approaching in Spring 2022, the predicted £1,200 additional costs will prove a leap too far for those who are already at a socio-economic disadvantage.

“With precious few months to go before the energy price rise cap is raised, Welsh Government must act with the appropriate urgency in tackling this imminent crisis, and publish an emergency action plan. While many of the levers are in the hands of the Tory government in Westminster, it’s up to us in Wales to protect people from the brunt of the storm.”

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Business

New McDonald’s restaurant to be built in Milford Haven if planning approved

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MC DONALD’S will be coming to Milford Haven if plans are passed by local councillors. Planning applications have been submitted this month by the fast food giant to open a new drive-thru style branch at Haven Heads Business Park.

Currently Milfordians who are hungry for a Big Mac and fries have to drive to Haverfordwest or Pembroke Dock.

The plans require the existing Unit G – next to Hakin Bridge – to be demolished and a new building to be constructed.

From the plans submitted we can see that – if approved – the restaurant will look like the computer image below.

How the Milford Haven Branch will look

The fast food giant has over 1300 branches in the UK, with Birmingham Liverpool and Glasgow having the most outlets with 17 stores each per city. Mc Donalds has over 136,000 staff or ‘crew members’ as they call them in the UK.

Location for the proposed McDonald’s Drive Thru (Google Streetview)
Plans for new Mc Donalds are on the PCC website
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Business

Employment figures show ‘labour market is strong’ says local MP Stephen Crabb

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FIGURES published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment is falling across the country while the number of unfilled job vacancies continues to increase.

The UK unemployment rate for January to March 2022 decreased by 0.3% on the quarter to 3.7%. The number of job vacancies has also increased nationally with 1.295 million job vacancies on average across February to April 2022, up from 1.261 million in the previous quarter. For the first time ever, there are fewer unemployed people than job vacancies. 

In Preseli Pembrokeshire, the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits aged 16-64 has decreased by 37% from 2,316 to 1,445 in a year, as more people take advantage of the growing number of job opportunities locally. Those claiming unemployment related benefits in Preseli Pembrokeshire remains lower than that of the national average at 3.2% compared with 4%.

But figures published today show that prices are rising at their fastest rate for 40 years with inflation at 9%. The rate is expected to sustain and is on course to continue to increase over the course of the year. Mr Crabb has consistently spoken out to protect those on the lowest incomes, calling on the Government to offer further support to help ease the soaring cost of living.

Commenting on the latest figures, Mr Crabb told The Pembrokeshire Herald: “We know that the pandemic has put a strain on the labour market, and I have been told by local businesses that staffing and recruitment has been a cause for concern. But these employment figures are extremely positive for Pembrokeshire, and show that the labour market is strong”

“The local job centre does a tremendous job at helping to fill vacancies through providing a tailored recruitment service for local employers. It is great to hear and see that people are making use of these services and seeking work”

“With the summer tourist season looming, no doubt local tourism and hospitality businesses in Pembrokeshire will continue to see an increase in the uptake of work”

“However, these positive figures sit in the backdrop of the cost of living crisis. Having recently met with Citizens Advice locally, and received many emails from worried constituents, I am acutely aware of the financial pressures that so many are facing and the need for some easing of the burden”

“I have been consistent in my calls for the Government to offer further support to those on low and middle incomes. With the latest inflation figures released today, this problem is only set to get worse and it is clear that without targeted action many will fall into real hardship and debt”

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Pembroke Dock: Five years in jail for Asda cashpoint robbery

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A PEMBROKE DOCK man has been jailed for five years for robbing a woman at knifepoint at the cashpoint at Asda on April 15.

Kieran Steven Brumby, 36, held a knife to the woman’s throat and demanded she hand over the £160 she was withdrawing from the cash machine.

He admitted the charge of robbery, and further pleaded guilty to charges of both possessing a knife in a public place and possessing 0.9g of cocaine.

Caged: Kieran Steven Brumby

Those in the court watched intently, as shocking CCTV footage was played, of the defendant holding a large kitchen knife against the victim’s throat.

When police arrested Brumby, who lives at Water Street, that evening, he denied that he was the person show in the CCTV footage. But at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (May 16) he pleaded guilty as charged.

The victim had stopped at the cash point to withdraw money before meet friends in Haverfordwest.

Brumby held the knife to her throat saying: “‘Give me the money”.

In a victim impact statement the woman said that she was suffering from sleepless nights, palpitations and nightmares about being attacked.

She said: “I feel depressed and anxious and constantly feel like somebody is behind me. I am checking over my shoulder every five minutes. If I leave the house feelings of panic rise.”

Brumby has previous conviction for possessing a shotgun without a certificate in 2009 and for breaching community orders.

Jon Tarrant, defending barrister, said his client’s long-term partner had walked out on him last year and that he had lost his employment and his home – affecting his client’s mental health.

“He can provide no explanation for his actions on this day,” said Mr Tarrant.

“He offers his profound apologies not only to the court but to his victim. He has profound regret and deep remorse for what he has done.”

Judge Geraint Walters said: “The victim impact statement shows the profound effect that your offending has had on your victim. A woman alone out in a, relatively speaking, remote location given the time of day.

“The effect of your offending in this case seems capable of being described as significant if not serious.

“I am not in doubt that this was to do with your cocaine habit.”
Judge Walters handed down a five-year sentence for the robbery, with a 12-month sentence for possession of the knife and a one-month sentence for cocaine possession to run concurrently.

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