News in brief: Online searches for properties on the Welsh coast surge over the last 12 months
Three coastal areas in Wales have seen a huge jump in the number of online property searches recorded over the past year.
Since the start of the Covid pandemic in March last year, estate agents Rightmove reports demand from city dwellers across the UK for homes by the sea has more than doubled, especially in locations that boast a sandy beach, with Wales, the English West Country, South Coast and the North-West coastline the most popular destinations searched online.
Saundersfoot, Tenby and Swansea all feature in the top eight areas highlighted by Rightmove in a new report, along with, Dartmouth, Salcombe and Teignmouth in Devon, Morecambe in Lancashire and Swanage in Dorset.
Dartmouth tops the list with an increase in buyer searches in 2021 compared to 2019 of 117%, but searches have also jumped by 107% in Saundersfoot, 103% in Tenby and 98% in Swansea.
Rightmove is also reporting Wales has seen the biggest increase in house prices in the UK in the last month, rising by 2.3% in July, taking the increase in property prices over the last 12 months to 10.9%.
According to the Principality Building Society the average property price in Wales reached a new high of £215,810 earlier this year.
“This month’s data shows how the property market in Wales remains robust, seeing the largest monthly and yearly increase in average asking prices for property,” Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said.
“This is driven by many factors – including the rise in the number of city buyers inquiring for homes in villages or near the coast, compared to before the pandemic, in the search for sea and space.”
“Wales is filled with beautiful and varied locations to live, and with working from home now a longer-term option for many, this has opened new doors for buyers,” he added.
Three Covid deaths recorded as cases surge across Wales
Over 2,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the 48 hours up to 9am on Sunday, and three further deaths due to the virus have been confirmed by Public Health Wales.
Two of the newly reported deaths were in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area and the one was recorded in Aneurin Bevan, taking the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 5,638.
PHW has recorded 2,394 new cases over the first part of the weekend, after confirming 1,099 new infections on Friday, in the report published yesterday.
Cardiff (207) reported the highest number of new cases in today’s update, followed by 145 in Flintshire and 137 in both Neath Port Talbot and Powys.
The surge in cases in recent days has seen the national infection rate up to 11 August jump by over 12 points to 169.3 per 100,000 people in the last seven days and the positivity rate has also risen from 11.3 per 100,000 tests to 12%.
Denbighshire has the highest case rate out of the 22 Welsh local authorities at 339.6 an increase from 316.6 yesterday and the test rate is up 0.9% to 18%.
Concerns voiced as prisoners reject Covid jabs
Two thirds of prisoners at HMP Berwyn in Wrexham, the UK’s largest operational prison, have refused the offer of a Covid vaccine, according to a report on the Inside Time website.
Figures released by individual prison healthcare providers under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that in July 51 per cent of prisoners at HMP Birmingham, 60 per cent at Thameside and 66 per cent at Berwyn had declined a jab, with vaccine scepticism blamed for the poor take-up.
Overall, Public Health England says at the beginning of July, 56% of prisoners in England and Wales had received a first dose of vaccine,
Public Health experts had called for higher priority to be given to vaccinating the prison population to slow the spread of Covid, but this approach was rejected by the JCVI, which advises the government on the vaccine rollout, and recommended prisoners were offered the vaccine in priority groups based on age or clinical vulnerability.
“With such low take-up of the vaccination, many more people inside prisons and their families and contacts are going to be susceptible to Covid spilling out into the community,” Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, wrote in a blog.
“So why was this allowed to happen? The NHS is saying it wanted to vaccinate whole prisons and is blaming HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) for the debacle. HMPPS is blaming the JCVI.
“I suspect it may have been ministers who took the decision for political reasons, as they did not want to look like they were prioritising prisoners at a time when care homes and other vulnerable people were being failed.”
HMP Berwyn opened in 2017 and can accommodate over 2,000 prisoners.
Minister announces new funding to help children and families impacted by the pandemic
Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services, has announced a new funding package of £11.5 million is being made available to support children and families living in some of the most deprived and disadvantaged communities across Wales.
The new support will allocate £4.5m to increase the Child Development Fund, which provides additional support to children and families impacted by the pandemic to address concerns around developmental delay, in areas such as speech, language and communication, fine and gross motor skills and personal and social development.
The remaining £7m will help the Children and Communities Grant to drive down waiting lists for early help and support services to help address the adverse effects of the pandemic on children and young people under the age of 25.
“The impacts of the last year have been felt by all of us, and particularly so by our children and young people and by those living in our most deprived and disadvantaged communities,” the minister said in a written statement.
“While we have sought to prioritise the needs of our children and young people throughout the pandemic, maintaining services for them as much as possible, we know there is now a need to provide additional support to help make up for lost time and lost opportunities.
“Across Wales we have a number of highly effective early intervention and prevention programmes providing support to children and families. During the health emergency, they have often had to adjust their approaches in line with the wider restrictions that we have all faced, sometimes pausing certain services temporarily.
“Many of the activities have now restarted, working with families to address the direct impacts of the lockdown and pandemic on economic, social, mental and physical wellbeing. The help they provide is critical as children and families refocus and move forwards.”