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Welsh Government announces extra £110m to support Welsh businesses affected by new restrictions

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The Welsh Government is making an extra £110m available to support businesses affected by the alert level four restrictions, which will come into force from the end of trading on Christmas Eve.

The new restrictions will mean all non-essential retail, including close contact services and all leisure and fitness centres, will close from end of trading on Christmas Eve, with hospitality businesses following at 6pm on Christmas Day.

The new support package – which is addition to the £340m already available to businesses under alert level three – will help 35,500 firms.

Businesses in the hospitality and non-essential retail sector, which are impacted by the new restrictions, receive small business rates relief and have a rateable value of £12,000 or less will be eligible for a £3,000 payment.

Hospitality and non-essential retail businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £150,000 will be eligible for a £5,000 payment.

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Tourism, leisure, retail and supply chain businesses in the same rateable value bracket will also be eligible for this support if their turnover has fallen by 40% or more during the restriction period.

Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Welsh Language Eluned Morgan made the announcement at today’s Welsh Government press conference.

She said: “We are making incredibly difficult but necessary decisions to protect the health and lives of our people.

“We recognise these decisions have a knock-on effect on our economy and this will be another blow to many businesses who have had to deal with so much during this incredibly challenging year.

“To support businesses affected by these latest restrictions we are making a further £110m available. We expect around 35,500 businesses in Wales will benefit from this support.”

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Welsh Government Economy Minister, Ken Skates MS

Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “This latest package is in addition to the £340m for businesses we announced at the end of November, taking our total package of business support during this pandemic to more than £2bn.

“Our financial assistance has already helped protect thousands of companies and safeguarded 125,000 jobs. We are working hard to get funds out to businesses quickly as possible and in the last two weeks alone, almost £20m has landed in the bank accounts of our businesses.

“The vital additional support being announced today will be administered by local authorities and the Welsh Local Government Association and I want to thank them for their ongoing hard work and efforts to ensure money reaches businesses quickly.

“Sadly rising coronavirus cases mean we must take action now to drive the virus down. We recognise this is hugely challenging for businesses, but as a government, we will continue to do all that we can to protect them, our people and our communities through these difficult days.”

Eligible hospitality and non-essential retail businesses, which registered for non-domestic rate support during the firebreak will be paid directly through their local authority. All other eligible businesses and those businesses, which did not register during the firebreak, will need to do so with their local authority in January with payment following soon after.

Businesses not eligible for non-domestic rates will be able to continue to apply to local authorities for a Lockdown Discretionary Grant of up to £2,000.

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More information about the package of business support is available at: www.businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice


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Port Talbot industrial door manufacturer celebrates year of continued growth

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Rhino Doors, the UK’s leading manufacturer of high-performance engineered doors, has seen significant growth in 2021, amid the continued expansion of its services to clients across transport, defence and critical national infrastructure.

Established in 1983, the company designs bespoke, industrial doors for the protection of national assets, and has supplied its products to the likes of Transport for London and the Ministry of Defence.

This year saw Rhino establish its parent company, Rhino Engineering Group, and two specialist subsidiaries: Rhino HySafe, which produces explosion relief products for the global hydrogen market, and Rhino Site Systems, its bespoke after-sales and installation wing.

The creation of these new trading entities comes after a string of major contract wins for the company, including the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade Project and the installation of bespoke doors in the cross passages of Moorgate Station.

These recent successes for Rhino Doors, which has manufacturing bases in both Burscough in Lancashire and Port Talbot in South Wales, are a positive sign for both the local economies and the workforce.

One of Rhino Doors’ manufacturing facilities

“We’re thrilled with all Rhino has achieved so far in 2021,” said Stuart Lawrence, Managing Director of Rhino Engineering Group.

“From our TfL contracts and our work with a major North American rail tunnel, to a string of new hires and promotions due to our growth, we’re scaling up and strengthening our position as a trusted name within the engineering sector.

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“Alongside this, we’re committed to investing in people and our growth has allowed us to upskill our workforce to ensure we deliver the very best for all our clients.

“As part of the Made in Britain community, and with new ISO accreditations under our belts, we are proud to be in such a strong position, representing the benchmark in British design and manufacturing excellence.

“We want this growth to positively impact on the UK manufacturing sector as a whole, but crucially, we want to continue to benefit our local economies, creating jobs and opportunities for working people in North West England and South Wales.”

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How Welsh curries are improving the lives of children and families in India

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Swansea diners eating at two of the city’s most popular Indian restaurants are unknowingly helping to improve the health and lives of children and families thousands of miles away.

Brothers Jas and Suki Kullar, who own Rasoi Indian Kitchen in Pontlliw and Rasoi Waterfront in SA1, have made it their mission to help people in Dera Baba Nanak in the impoverished district of Gurdaspur in Punjab through their charity, Sikhi Sewa Missions UK. They have committed 20 per cent of their annual profits to causes in their homeland.

Swansea diners are funding a hospital in the region which was built and is sustained by the Sikhi Sewa Mission UK, providing free medical health care for people in Dera Baba Nanak including regular eye screening camps in more remote areas, where locals can attend and receive treatment. They have also provided funding for school fees and uniforms for hundreds of children to access education as well as funding coaching lessons for young people to learn to sew, so they can earn extra income.

This year, the brothers have organised the installation of a water-well for locals and have funded food supplies for 40 families every month.

In addition to the Sikhi Sewa Mission the restaurant also supports charities closer to home such as the Swansea Young Single Homeless Project by inviting service users to the restaurant for meals and catering at their facility.

Jas Kullar said: “It’s really important to us at Rasoi to play some part in improving the lives of people back in Dera Baba Nanak and here in Wales.

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“When we visit Punjab to visit family, we see for ourselves how difficult it is for many people so it means so much to us as a family that we can help, as well as helping causes here in Wales. It gives us huge satisfaction to know that we’re giving back in some way. But we couldn’t help as many people as we do, without the help of our loyal customers. We cannot thank them enough’

He continues: “We have worked very hard to offer something different to the usual curry offering in Swansea and we hope that our customers will have an extra warm feeling knowing that they are helping people both at home and thousands of miles away when they dine with us.”

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Market management job is dream role for Darren

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The man just appointed to manage Swansea Market says it is his dream role.

Swansea-raised Darren Cox is eager to make the iconic venue as welcoming and engaging as possible to traders, neighbours and customers.

He became market supervisor after a 27-year career in private sector businesses.

He now heads a market that, in non-pandemic times, attracts more than four million shoppers a year.

Managed by Swansea Council, it is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses, hosts casual traders and puts on regular events.

Darren said: “The market is so close to my heart that I’m thrilled to get this role – it’s a dream come true.

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“Retail around the UK hasn’t had it easy for the past few years but I’m confident that the market can help traders – and the city – come back strongly as we work our way out of the pandemic.

Swansea Market gives shoppers something that online shopping can’t – the human touch – and I want to ensure that all who visit feel safe, secure and welcome.

“We have strong relationships with our neighbours such as the Quadrant and the fantastic new arena and we’ll help Swansea as it continues to develop in such a positive way; the progress made on regeneration through the pandemic has been remarkable.”

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “I welcome Darren to this pivotal role – he’s passionate about Swansea, the city centre and the market.”

Darren was raised in Sketty, educated at Olchfa School and vividly remembers being taken around the market by his parents as a young boy.

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His first job – soon after graduating from University College Birmingham – was in Tenerife as a holiday rep. He then worked on the island for 25 years in roles such as commercial and operations management.

Before joining the market he was operations manager with the Swansea-based La Braseria group for two years.

Darren lives in Swansea with his partner Natasha and her daughter. He also has an adult son and daughter.

At the market, he replaces John Burns who retired as supervisor in the summer.

Last year the venue was named Britain’s best large indoor market by the National Association of British Market Authorities.

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Lead Image: Darren Cox, the new supervisor of Swansea Market. (Image: Swansea Council)

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