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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”

Business

Council wants to increase social housing stock by buying private properties. Are you selling?

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says that it is continuing efforts to increase its social housing stock in response to the current housing challenges faced in the county.

As of the end of March, there were 5545 people on the housing register, the council said. With an increased demand to provide urgent temporary housing following changes to Welsh Government policy, the Council is now using its own stock as well as B&B and other private hostel arrangements.

The Council has been and continues to proactively acquire properties, including ex-council ‘buy backs’ to add to its housing stock by using its own as well as Welsh Government funding.

This funding has been allocated to the Council in recognition of the housing pressures being faced through lack of affordable accommodation and the demands on social housing stock.

Therefore the Council is urging anyone considering selling their property to get in touch.

Last year, the Council purchased 57 properties when presented with a unique opportunity.

Cllr Michelle Bateman, the Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Given the large numbers of people on the housing register I’m pleased to see that the Council is pushing on with efforts to increase the number of properties that are available.

“Each property we acquire is another home for people and families on the housing register in Pembrokeshire and makes such a positive impact on their lives.

“We are keen to acquire affordable housing that meet our needs across the County and therefore invite anyone considering selling their property to contact the Housing department on 01437 764551.”

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Milford Haven Town Council recommends new McDonald’s restaurant 

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How the Milford Haven Branch will look

MILFORD HAVEN Town Council have no objections to the application for a new McDonald’s restaurant to be built in town. 

The decision to recommend the application was made at the latest Milford Haven Town Council Planning, Policy and Community Committee meeting, following confirmation at the Full Council meeting held on Monday, June 27. 

The planning application focuses on the demolition of the former Paul Sartori Home Furnishings store at Havens Head Retail Park. 

If approved by Pembrokeshire County Council, the retail park would see a new 24-hour restaurant with a drive-through. 

Location for the proposed McDonald’s Drive Thru (Google Streetview)

All councillors at a meeting held in mid-June supported the recommendation. This came after a letter from Mr R Pugh, account director at Built Environment Communications Group, was read aloud on behalf of McDonald’s. 

The letter stated: “Job creation is particularly important in the post-Covid-19 climate, with significant challenges for young people entering the job market.

“McDonald’s will result in the creation of between 100-120 full- and part-time jobs, with a clear career path to management for employees who seek this opportunity.

“McDonald’s are committed to keeping the areas around their restaurants clean and tidy. All their restaurants are equipped with recycling facilities for customer dining inside and waste bins around the restaurant for those heading to the car park.

Plans for new McDonald’s are on the PCC website

“McDonald’s will also conduct a minimum of three daily litter picks for all litter within the vicinity of our restaurant.

“The Local Highway Authority has raised no objections to our proposals and the Transport Assessment submitted as part of our application concludes that the development proposals would not result in a material change in conditions on the local highway, with a co-ordinated parking strategy utilising spare capacity in neighbouring car parks.

“McDonald’s understands that Pembrokeshire County Council has declared a climate emergency and have a number of initiatives to reduce not only our impact on the environment, but accommodate others who also wish to do so.

“As such, our proposals include 100 per cent of power for our restaurants coming from renewable sources.”

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Business

Asda rolls out loyalty programme to all stores in Wales

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ASDA has announced it will begin a roll-out of its ‘Asda Rewards’ loyalty app to customers across Wales following a successful eight-month trial.

The roll-out will mean that customers will be able use the Asda Rewards app in any of the supermarket’s 39 stores throughout Wales.

The expansion into Wales comes after a successful trial period across 48 Asda stores in the UK, which have seen over 300,000 customers sign up to the new loyalty programme and earn a total of £2.5m worth of rewards in their personal ‘cash pot’, which they can spend in store.

Shoppers can earn Asda Rewards in three easy ways:

· By completing in-app missions, such as:

o The ‘Heinz Hero’ mission, where customers receive £2 in their Cashpot for buying 5 canned Heinz products in their shop.

o Or the ‘Back to School’ mission, which puts £5 into users Cashpots when they spend £25 on George school uniform.

· By completing ‘milestone missions’, customers rewards will build higher the more the spend over a certain period.

o Up to 10th August, customers will receive cashback for every milestone they meet, starting from spending £50 to get a 50p reward, earning as much as £25 in to their Cashpot when they hit each spend milestone.

· By buying ‘star products’ which are highlighted throughout the store.

o There are over 400 ‘Star Products’ currently available, from Asda’s Butcher’s Selection pork chops to Asda’s Extra Special cheese selection, or even Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream tubs – customers will receive 10% back into their Cashpot when they add any of these products to their basket.

Customers will see their Cashpot build in the Asda Rewards app as they shop, and they can redeem their cash whenever they choose by creating a voucher in their rewards app with the money they have saved.

The supermarket is also trialling Asda Rewards online, so customers are rewarded for home deliveries and click and collect orders too – linking their Asda Rewards app to their Asda.com account. The trial is in selected stores across the UK, with Wales being the first full region to offer Rewards both in store and online.

Mark Baxter, Senior Director for Loyalty at Asda, said: “We are really excited to be able to bring Asda Rewards to our customers in Wales. We know that customers in our other trial stores love the savvy feeling they get from using Asda rewards to earn cash for tomorrow on the products they buy today – and we’ve been making improvements to the app based on their feedback. We’re looking forward to seeing how much our customers can save by shopping with Asda rewards in Wales and hearing what they think of it before we roll it out into even more stores across the UK.”

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