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Unemployment rises in Wales

Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

In the three months to October unemployment in Wales rose by 8,000 to 105,000 people without jobs. That's a rate of 7.1 percent.

Unemployment in Wales is lower than at the same time last year, while youth unemployment is still falling faster in Wales than in the UK.

Employment in Wales remains well above its historic average and claimant count is at its lowest rate since 2008.

When these figures are considered alongside other key economic indicators, such as the largest increase in GVA per head in the UK and record inward investment, it is clear that our policies are making a difference, supporting jobs and growth right across Wales.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

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£3.5m to boost employment following Murco deal collapse

Two funds worth a combined £3.5m will open later this month to try to boost employment opportunities in Pembrokeshire following the collapse of the Murco oil refinery deal last month.

A deal to buy the Murco site had been agreed, but collapsed at the eleventh hour last month, costing hundreds of jobs.

The collapse of the sale of the Murco oil refinery was a bitter blow for the whole of Pembrokeshire and our priority now is safeguarding as many jobs as possible in the area. These two funds will go a considerable way towards achieving this by supporting businesses and individuals in the area.

– Edwina Hart, Economy Minister

Welsh Secretary vows to make the case for rail electrification in the North

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb says he'll be making the case for North Wales rail electrification 'at the heart of government.'

He's set to make his promise during a speech at the Daily Post business awards this evening which is part of histwo-day tour of the North.

Mr Crabb is expected to say:

This afternoon I visited Rhyl Station - one of the main stations on the North Wales coastline, to bang the drum for North Wales rail electrification.

Just like in the Valleys - electrifying the lines for stations like Rhyl would have a transformative effect for North Wales - connecting people and business with opportunities and jobs right across the country, so that geographic location is never a barrier to success.

North Wales needs modern rail infrastructure if it is to continue competing with the rest of the country.

This won’t happen overnight - it will take time, it will take money, and it will take a lot of hard work.

But I will be championing this around the cabinet table and making the case for North Wales rail electrification to my colleagues at the heart of Government.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

Link Wales to Northern powerhouse says Crabb

The Welsh Secretary is making a series of visits across the north

The Welsh Secretary is expected to say he wants the North of Wales to build links to the UK Government's planned Northern English powerhouse.

He's starting a two day tour of the region during which he'll visit a range of key sites, meet businesses and other organisations.

And in a speech at the annual Daily Post business awards, he's expected to say:

North Wales is a beacon for investment and jobs - a Northern Powerhouse for the Welsh economy. This government has a long-term economic plan that creates the right conditions for growth in North Wales - a recovery that is broad based and balanced; that reaches into every region of the UK, so that London and the South-east don’t suck in the best at the expense of the rest.

North Wales is not just an economic region in itself, it is part of a wider community – not just South to Swansea and Cardiff, but North and East to Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Humberside.

The Northern Powerhouse the Chancellor has spoken about is not exclusive - not restricted to England. It’s about linking the northern regions, including North Wales, to trade, grow, attract private investment, and attract the best people. Business leaders in North Wales are the driving force behind the economic recovery in Wales and the people that are making North Wales our own Northern Powerhouse.

– Stephen Crabb MP, Secretary of State for Wales

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Recruitment drive held for Murco refinery workers

American company Klesch Refinery Ltd had agreed a deal to buy the Murco site back in July. Credit: ITV News

A recruitment drive is being held in Milford Haven today after an announcement earlier this month that the Murco refinery was to close.

More than three hundred jobs are to be shed at the site after a deal to take it over collapsed.

The company behind the recruitment drive, petrochemical company Ineos, is hoping to fill vacancies at its site in Scotland.

The site in Milford Haven is due to be closed and used as a storage and distribution facility.

Read more: Get euro aid for Murco workers says Plaid MEP.

Cutting tourism VAT would create 'thousands' of jobs

A group has claimed cutting VAT on accommodation and attractions from 20% to 5% would create almost 6,000 jobs in Wales. The Cut Tourism VAT campaign also says the move would boost the Welsh economy by over £165m.

The campaign claims a cut in tourism VAT would have an 'immediate and positive' impact on the Welsh economy. Credit: PA

The campaign, which has cross-party support from nearly 100 MPs, is calling on the Chancellor to announce a VAT cut in the Autumn Statement and give regions outside of London more support.

Earlier this year Westminster's Welsh Affairs committee called on the UK Government to "review its policy on the VAT rate for the tourism industry, with the ultimate aim of reducing the current 20% rate".

Research from the campaign claims that promising to reduce VAT for the sector would have an immediate positive impact on the economy, as companies factor a reduction into their spending plans and begin the process of hiring and reinvesting.

"George Osborne has a fantastic opportunity in the Autumn Statement to unveil a tax cut that would create thousands of jobs, inject millions of pounds into regional economies outside of London, and even result in a fiscal surplus for the Treasury. What's more, many of the benefits would be felt as soon as a cut is announced. The Chancellor should listen to MPs, including the dozens in his own party, who are calling for change."

– Graham Wason, Chairman, Cut Tourism VAT campaign

Cost of merging councils 'up to £268m'

Credit: J.M. Guyon/Candybox Images/PA Images

The upfront cost of merging Welsh councils could range between £160m and £268m.

That's according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)

But it also says this is offset against potential savings of £65m a year across all councils after a three year period.

In the study CIPFA Wales evaluated a number of areas where the costs of transition and recurrent savings are likely to be significant.

These included people change costs, including redundancy, of up to £158m; property, systems and other change management costs of around £54m and income forgone because of council tax harmonisation of at least £57m.

With over half of the UK Government’s consolidation plan still to be realised, all political leaders need to be honest with the public about what the future holds and what action is needed. Indeed in our recent Manifesto for the 2015 election, one of our calls was for all decisions on spending and services to be taken in the context of medium to long-term financial sustainability.

– Rob Whiteman, CIPFA Chief Executive

Euro aid spending approved

A detailed agreement between the Welsh Government and the European Commission has been reached on how £2 billion of European aid will be spent over the next seven years.

It's split between a regional development fund, worth about £1.1 billion and a smaller social fund, which supports skills development and helping people into work. Most of the development money will be spent on the European Commission's objectives, including research and innovation, the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises, renewables and energy efficiency,

But £252 million will be spent on transport, which the Welsh Government argued was also a priority for economic growth. The metro scheme to improve public transport in Cardiff and the Valleys will be a major beneficiary but the Commission has also agreed to some of the money being spent on road improvements to the A40 in west Wales and the A55 in the north.

Wales is the first to adopt programmes in the UK and indeed, it is a model for the rest of Europe's regions in terms of 'partnership in action'. Thanks to the tireless work and dedication - from ministerial level to the grassroots, we are able to launch these vital programmes for investments that will set Wales on the path to smart and green growth - connecting people, skills and jobs

– European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu

The EU is a unique partnership of nations working together for the benefit of their citizens, and as a pro-European Government we value the role of Wales in Europe and to the UK’s membership of the EU.

– Finance Minister Jane Hutt AM
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