Much has happened since my last note, and I wanted to give you a short update on some of the big issues facing our area at the moment.
The vaccine roll-out is of course top of the agenda. Below you will find a summary of my catch-up with Hywel Dda Health Board (information correct as of Friday 29.) I hope you find it useful.
With Carmarthen town hit by flooding again, I helped to organise a meeting with stakeholders and fellow Carmarthen MP Jonathan Edwards. You can read the main points of our discussion below.
Finally, I have included the latest business support from Welsh Government, along with information on an important update to the UK Government's 'Kickstart Scheme' for employers.
Vaccination stats etc.
Encouragingly there are early signs of a reduction in infection rates, though our health board is still under great pressure.
As of Friday, the local infection rate was 187 cases per 100k in Carmarthenshire and 125 cases per 100k in Pembrokeshire.
Procedures have restarted at Glangwili, with Withybush hoping to restart operations this week.
40,515 vaccine doses have been administered in the health board area - 10% of the population.
The pace of the roll-out has increased significantly and is a tribute to those involved. For example, it took thirty days to administer the first 10k doses, and only six days to do the most recent 10k.
The Health Board is confident it will meet its February 14 target of vaccinating all over 70s along with the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. The aim then is for all over 50s to receive their first dose by the end of March.
"Everyone aged 80+ should now have been offered a vaccine. If you know of someone who hasn't, do let me know and I will pass their details to HDHB."
Carmarthen town has been hit by flooding again, and I helped to organise a meeting with stakeholders and fellow Carmarthen MP Jonathan Edwards to try to come up with a blueprint to lessen future damage.
We agreed that the flooding is a result of climate change and the impact of climate change on flood management, and that lessening flooding will take considerable research and substantial sums of money.
However, there are also shorter term solutions that could make a practical difference.
Carmarthenshire Council, local business owners, and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) all took part and it was agreed that NRW will take the lead in a joint approach which will:
- Review whether the flood schemes in place are effective
- Revisit the existing wall at the Quay and whether there should be a cantilever wall in the existing gap
- Consider if targeted dredging is feasible and what the ecological impacts might be
- Look at the possibility of ‘demountable defences’ around the Quay
Restrictions Business Fund - Extension
Following the First Minister’s announcement, the Restrictions Business Fund Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) for non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors has been extended to provide a single top up payment for businesses affected by national restrictions.
A discretionary based grant will also be available.
More information can be found via your Local Authority:
(Note, PCC had not updated their website as of publication)
Big change to Kickstart Scheme
From tomorrow (Wed 3), employers can apply directly to the Kickstart scheme for any number of job placements, removing the minimum threshold of 30 jobs.
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employ 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.
Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:
- 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
- associated employer National Insurance contributions
- employer minimum automatic pension enrolment contributions