Monthly Archives: March 2016

Newry, Newry market, market, food market, twilight market, Newry twilight market, newry food market, newry food, shop loca, newry shop local, mourne, newry mourne down, newry council, taste junction, tastejunction, #tastejunction

Newry Market being put to good use

A few years ago I wrote a piece about how I felt we could help save the Cathedral and Creamery Quarters in Newry. Among the suggestions I had were making the most of Newry Market. I still maintain this is as really great facility. It just seems to have gone downhill over the years without anyone showing the will or the want to do something with it. However, with this being the year of celebrating Food and Drink, two upcoming events look like they will showcase the Market in a very positive way.

On 1st April from 5-11pm, the Council will be hosting Newry’s first Twilight Market show casing some of the local food and drink producers, pop-up restaurants, food tasting and full bar. Then, on 22nd April, SRC take over the Market for Newry Food Festival.

I think it will come as a surprise to most just how many local food producers we have in the area. And the Market is the perfect place to showcase this. Belfast has a phenomenal asset in St. Georges Market doing this same thing week in, week out. And the effects are felt far beyond just the retailers making a days wage. As a tourist attraction, it’s huge.

Whether we like to say it or not, we need to be realistic – Newry City Centre has almost nothing unique to offer tourists. Yes, it has shops, shopping centres and great places to get fed and watered. But so does every other town in the country. The Newry and Mourne area has a lot going for it with great parks, mouthing, scenery and outdoor activities all along the Mourne Costal Route. But the city centre is, well, just a city centre.

I really believe the market could become an asset to the city. My fear however is that once these two events are done and dusted it goes back to the way it has been for the past 15 years. Sparsely populated, depressing and selling nothing of any great appeal or value. I hope that both events do tremendously well and that some of the retailers exhibiting see the same potential in the market as I do and become a regular feature. All it takes is one or two to begin drawing people in. More people will lead to more retailers will lead to more people, and so on. Hopefully 2016, as well as being the year of celebrating Food and Drink, is the year we restore Newry Market to its former glory.

national minimum wage, minimum wage, UK national minimum wage, salaries, salary wage, wages, employee, employee pay, pay rates, hourly rate, employee pay rates, employee hourly rates, employee hourly rate

Minimum wage increase on 1st April will cost employers almost £1,200 extra per employee

From the 1st April, the National Minimum Wage for employees aged 25 or over increases from £6.70 per hour (the current rate for all employees aged 21 or over) to £7.20 per hour to fall in line with the Living Wage.

The government plans to increase this amount year on year to bring the minimum hourly rate for those over 25 to £9 per hour by 2020.

Whilst this is good news for low paid employees, the cost to smaller business will be significant – around £1,200 more per employee per year once National Insurance contributions and Auto-Enrolment pension contributions are added in. With what is effectively a new minimum wage bracket being introduced, the gap between the minimum wage for employees aged between 18 and 25 is now £1.90 per hour – almost £4,000 per year for a full time employee.

To this end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant decrease in unemployment for people under 25, as employees try to manage their costs by hiring younger workers ahead of the more expensive, older ones.

To lessen the impact on employers, the government are increasing the Employment Allowance on 6th April from £2,000 to £3,000. So the first £3,000 of employers National Insurance incurred in the 2016/17 tax year doesn’t need to be paid over to HM Revenue & Customs. While this is welcome, it may mean very little to employers who have more than one employee going up to the new £7.20 rate.

It’s worth noting that none of the other National Minimum Wage rates are changing at this time. These are usually tinkered with on 1st October every year so don’t be surprised to hear more on this in Budget 2016 next Wednesday, 16th March.