Wales

Election 2015: Work and wages by the seaside in Tenby

Tenby harbour
Image caption Tenby's economy relies on the tourist trade

The recession is behind us but are we feeling better off?

It is a question not only considered by the politicians but also by plenty of businesses and workers in holiday towns like Tenby in Pembrokeshire.

The market here can trace its history back about 700 years and, while many tourist shops are seasonal, the stalls are open all year and rely on local customers.

Its only remaining butcher Gernot Braun can sense just how confident shoppers are feeling.

Image caption Gernot Braun has not seen much change since 2010

He said: "We had a pleasant, busy time over Easter, the weather was fine, people were happy. Now it's a quieter time but it's the start of the season so it should be a busy time for us again.

"I don't know if people are spending more - we haven't seen an increase in turnover. People have still got a bit of money."

He said it was about the same as five years ago and had not got any worse.

"I think that's a positive sign for the British economy."

Image caption Prices and wages since the end of 2010

The prices we pay for many goods are barely going up at the moment but it has not been like that for all of this parliament.

At the beginning of 2010, prices were rising at 3% a year.

The recession meant small wage rises but despite earnings picking up a little, the increases are now back at that 2010 level.

So this gap between rising prices and wages means some feel less well off than five years ago.

But there is also the argument that had wages gone up as much as prices, more jobs would have been lost by employers struggling to keep up.

'We just about make ends meet'

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Media captionSarah, Arjun and Morgan on working and wages in Tenby

Tenby is in the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituency which had an unemployment rate in 2014 of 4.4%, compared with 6.8% for Wales as a whole.

However, many of the jobs around Tenby are linked to tourism and are often minimum wage.

Speaking to people in the town, the impression you get is that for many, money is still tight.

Image caption Chris Osborne says traders are cautiously optimistic

Chris Osborne, whose family has owned a hotel on the seafront for three generations, said people were still wary in terms of spending but there was a "little bit of feeling better".

"There are early indications, but I don't think anyone's getting too excited," he said.

"So much of our economy depends on tourists - they're coming from other parts of UK where perhaps they're seeing benefits of recovery.

"But if you look around Tenby you will perhaps see more shops empty than you'd expect to see at this time of year."

"There's a degree of more disposable income spend - it's going in the right direction. Cautious optimism is the name of the game".

He said he still had to be prudent and had not been able to give his staff a wage rise for some time but wanted to hear if there was a real chance for reduced VAT for tourism businesses and less red tape.

Almost all the parties are promising that if they are elected, we will be allowed to earn more before we start paying income tax.

Policy guide: Economy

This issue includes the wider economy and deficit reduction but also employment and the role of business.

Independent financial adviser Marlene Outrim says the impact will vary.

"It can make a difference but it depends where you are in that tax threshold," she said.

"Take for example a young couple both working on the borderline, with a large mortgage, children at nursery they're paying for - it could make quite a difference if they raise the threshold.

"For others already paying 40% it's unlikely to make a huge difference."

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