Updates to Apprenticeships Funding Reservations! Extra 10 Apprenticeship Spaces

Great news, all non-levy paying companies have another 10 apprenticeship spaces during the academic year April 2021 - April 2022. 

As a smaller employer, who does not pay the apprenticeship levy, you must reserve apprenticeship funding for training and assessment in the finance section of your apprenticeship service account.

You can also give your training provider permission to reserve funding on your behalf.

What you’ll need

You will need to know:

When you can use reserved funds

From 1 April 2021, you can reserve funds up to 6 months in advance of the expected apprenticeship start date.

The reserved funds are available to use from the selected month of the apprenticeship start date and the following 2 months. The reservation will expire at the end of the 3rd month if you do not use it.

Reserved funds cannot be used for apprenticeships that started before the reservation was made.

Example

If you access your account in April 2021, you can reserve funding for an apprenticeship that has an expected start date between April 2021 and September 2021.

You choose July 2021 as the apprenticeship start date. This funding reservation can then be used for an apprenticeship that starts in July, August or September. You must use this reservation and create a commitment on the service before the end of September 2021. If you do not do this your reservation will expire.

As you have selected July 2021 as the start date in the apprenticeship service, you cannot use this reservation for an apprenticeship that starts before this.

Funding status

There are 3 funding statuses:

Read more and apply here.

Employer Incentive Scheme Extension

Funding available - Apprenticeship Recruitment support

The Welsh Government has launched a £40 million skills and jobs package to help employers like you to take on and train new workers, including apprentices and young people. Apprenticeships continue to play a vital role in delivering the skills employers and the economy need, offering the opportunity to recruit cost effectively and build a skilled workforce.

The apprenticeship incentives, which will run from 1st of August 2020 to   30th of September 2021, will help businesses to recruit apprentices, supporting the development of a workforce that is able to meet changing business needs.

Incentive payment for employing 16-24 year olds

Payments will be limited to a maximum of ten apprentices per employer.
This incentive applies to apprenticeships delivered at Levels 2-5 only.

Incentive payment for employing apprentices aged 25 and over

Payments will be limited to a maximum of ten apprentices per employer
* This incentive applies to apprenticeships delivered at Levels 2-5 only.

Re-employment of Redundant apprentices

Conveyancing Foundation Be Kind We Care Initiative

The Be Kind We Care initiative has been launched by the Conveyancing Foundation to promote kindness and wellbeing within the property industry. With the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the pressure cooker environment that many in the property industry find themselves in, mental wellbeing and support has become a key issue for many professionals.

Be Kind We Care is working in partnership with charities LawCare, Agents Together and the Mindstep Foundation to provide businesses and individuals with the resources they need to promote good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. The Be Kind We Care Resource Hub offers access to a host of useful guides, top tips, podcasts, and webinars. There is also the opportunity to sign up to the Be Kind We Care Newsletter, which will provide subscribers with additional resources.

Being kind and courteous to one another is essential to promoting this sense of wellbeing in the workplace. The Be Kind We Care initiative will therefore be working closely with Today’s Conveyancer and their Call for Kindness campaign to promote this agenda within our industry.

Be Kind We Care also aims to raise over £30,000 in 2021 in support of charities providing mental health and welfare initiatives.

Lloyd Davies, Co - Founder and Chairman of the Conveyancing Foundation commented:

“The inspiration behind this initiative derived in the workplace but applies to every situation in life. It is often easy when we are under pressure or feeling stressed to take frustrations out on others. A kind and friendly manner is usually more effective in achieving a required outcome.

“We hope that the property industry embraces this initiative to promote good mental health and wellbeing. We believe that this is a key issue for our industry, and we hope to make a positive change by highlighting the excellent resources available. Thank you in advance to those that support the Be Kind We Care initiative.”

Elizabeth Rimmer from LawCare commented:

“We are delighted to partner with the Conveyancing Foundation and the Be Kind We Care initiative to help promote wellbeing in the workplace. We can all help each other across the industry, and we hope that this initiative will help to raise awareness of the help that is available for those that are struggling during these busy and difficult times”.

Sarah Edmundson from Agents Together commented:

“We are pleased to be involved in this initiative, which fits perfectly with our values as a foundation. We actively promote and support collaboration within Estate Agency and we are pleased to raise awareness and share useful resources with the wider property industry. Our founding pillars are promoting a healthy mind and a healthy business, and we hope by working closely with those involved in "Be Kind, We Care”, that we will help more individuals to not only manage but to prosper during these most unusual of times”.

Tracey Davies from the Mindstep Foundation commented:

“We hope that this Be kind We Care initiative will have a positive impact on how we interact with one another positively on a day to day basis, which is so important for those who may be struggling. We are pleased to be able to support this initiative and raise awareness of the importance of good mental health and wellbeing within the workplace.”

Please visit www.conveyancingfoundation.org.uk/be-kind-we-care for more information and to access the Resource Hub. You can support the Be Kind We Care initiative by downloading the logo and including it in your email signatures or on your websites or by making a donation to mental health charities.

51 Hour Charity Lockdown Relay For Mindstep

The Mindstep Lockdown Relay took place over the weekend with more than 120 people participating including many of The Conveyancing Academy Team!

Lloyd, Georgia, Kath, Sabina, James, Alex and strongman Ollie all participated in the relay which ran non-stop from Friday 5pm – Sunday 8pm, each volunteer completing one hour of exercise, 51 hours in total. 

The activities varied from walking, running, dancing, flipping tyres, box jumping, jet washing a patio, DJ’ing and sprints across the Severn Bridge at 5am. One person achieved 761 burpees in an hour! 

The Lockdown Relay aimed to raise awareness of the long-lasting effects COVID -19 has had on mental health and to support suicide prevention research. The event raised an incredible £17,000 for suicide prevention research - over 3x Mindstep's original target! 

Thank you to all those who took part and those who donated via the Just Giving page. 

Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 Finalists!

The Conveyancing Academy is proud to announce that our Partner Convey Law are Medium Sized Employer finalists for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021, using Conveyancing Academy training courses!

Over the years, The Conveyancing Academy has supported hundreds of Law firms with their conveyancing training needs. Our Level 3 Practising Conveyancer Apprenticeship is ideal for new and non-qualified Conveyancers. Students next take our Level 4 Conveyancing Technician Apprenticeship and finally the Level 6 Licenced Conveyancer Diploma.

Wales247 reports:

Star employers, inspirational learners and dedicated work-based learning practitioners across Wales have been shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.

The annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 36 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards at a virtual ceremony on April 29.

Highlight of the of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcase businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, has renewed its headline sponsorship of the awards.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates said:

“Congratulations to all of the learners, employers, tutors and assessors shortlisted for Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021.

“This past year has been incredibly difficult, but we have seen the best in people too, as they demonstrated the talent, skills and commitment to not only succeed themselves but also support others.

“Apprenticeships play a crucial role in the Welsh economy and allow people to earn a wage whilst developing new skills and capabilities. I believe they will be vital in helping us recover from the impacts of coronavirus.

“As a government, we have already achieved our target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in the Senedd term. I am delighted that thanks to Welsh Government action, we are providing apprentices and trainees of all ages with important experiences which will benefit firms in all sectors of our business community now and in the future.”

Connie Dixon, partnership director for Openreach in Wales, said:

”We’re delighted to be supporting this great event once again this year and would like to congratulate all the finalists for making it this far.

“Apprenticeships have always been a key part of Openreach’s recruitment strategy. Not only do they bring energy, excitement, and enthusiasm to our business, but they also bring new skills, new experiences and new ideas. Good luck to all the finalists.”

Successful businesses are recognised with awards in four categories. The finalists are: Small Employer of the Year (1 to 49 employees): Compact Orbital Gears, Rhayader; Wales England Care Limited, Newport and Thomas Skip and Plant Hire, Caernarfon. Medium Employer of the Year (50 to 249 employees): Andrew Scott Limited, Port Talbot; Convey Law, Newport and Cambria Maintenance Services Limited, Ewloe. Large Employer of the Year (250 to 4,999 employees): Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police, Carmarthen; Aspire Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil and Dow Silicones UK Limited, Barry. Macro Employer of the Year (5,000 plus employees): Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, Clydach Vale and Swansea Bay University Health Board, Baglan.

Work-based learning practitioners compete for two awards. Finalists are: Work-based Learning Assessor of the Year: Matt Redd, from Cardiff who works for Sgil Cymru, Rebecca Strange from Thornhill, Cardiff who works for Educ8 Group and Lydia Harris from Bridgend who works for JGR Training. Work-based Learning Tutor of the Year: Stephanie Fry from Wales England Care, Newport, Hannah Kane-Roberts from Splott, Cardiff who works for Itec and Karen Richards from Blackwood who works for ACT, Cardiff.

Awards for apprentices are split into four categories. Finalists are: Foundation Apprentice of the Year: Bethany Mason, 21, Llantrisant; Stevie Williams, 36, of Goytre, Port Talbot and Joel Mallison, 30, of Abergavenny. Apprentice of the Year: William Davies, 20, Aberdare; Owain Carbis, 19, Thornhill, Cardiff; Owen Lloyd, 23, Coed y Cwm, Pontypridd. Higher Apprentice of the Year: Natalie Morgan, 33, Penarth; Rhyanne Rowlands, 38, Aberdare; Ciara Lynch, 22, Morriston, Swansea.

Introduced in 2019, the “Tomorrow’s Talent” category asked employers to nominate stand out current apprentices. Finalists are Sophie Williams, 21, from Hirwaun, who works for Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council’s foster service; Connor Paskell, 21, from Llantrisant, who works for British Airways Avionic Engineering, Llantrisant and Ryan Harris, 21, from Hawthorn, Pontypridd who works for Renishaw plc, Miskin.

An employability category recognises learners in two categories. Finalists are: Traineeship Learner of the Year for Engagement: Jessica Apps, 19, of Forge Side, Blaenavon; Ross Vincent, 18, of Pembroke Dock and Lewis O’Neill, 17, Garden City, Deeside. Traineeships Learner of the Year (Level 1): Thibaud Gailliard, 21, of Ebbw Vale;  James Hopkins, 20, of Beachley, Chepstow and Chloe Harvey, 19, of Monkton, Pembroke.

Conveyancing Training Academy Raises over £800,000 for Charity

Since its establishment in 2004 Charity fundraising has been at the heart of The Academy's work ethic and culture. This week, after 16 years of fundraising The Conveyancing Academy in partnership with Convey Law reach a huge fundraising milestone of £800,978.37 and still counting! 

In 2010 Lloyd established The Conveyancing Foundation to support legal practices with charity fundraising. Companies registered with The Conveyancing Foundation ask their clients if they would like to enter the Free Legal Fee Competition by making a £10 donation to charity. The client is then entered into a monthly Prize Draw, where the winner receives up to £500 towards their Legal Fees.  

The Competition has been recognised by royalty with His Royal Highness Prince Charles congratulating the team on their fundraising efforts in 2017. 

The Foundation has also received immense support over the years from the Conveyancing Association, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers and Bold Group Members.  

Money raised through The Academy, Convey Law and The Conveyancing Foundation has helped support thousands of families in England and Wales over the years.  

Ty Hafan, one of the UK’s leading paediatric palliative care charities has been a key benefactor. The Ty Hafan team offer care to children and support for their families throughout Wales in incredibly difficult times. The Conveyancing Academy in partnership with Convey Law have donated more than £300,000 over the years to this charity, with The Conveyancing Academy's MD Lloyd Davies Appointed as Ty Hafan’s Corporate Ambassador in 2014. 

The Academy and Convey Law have also raised over £80,000 for Children with Cancer UK, the leading national children’s charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer. 

Other brilliant causes include Alzheimer’s Research UK, BBC Children in Need and Mindstep Foundation.   

The Conveyancing Academy has hosted and participated in various fundraising events over the years including the Ty Hafan China Trek that raised over £12,000 and The Academy's regular dress down days which have raised over £20,000.  

Chairman of the Conveyancing Foundation and MD of The Conveyancing Academy, Lloyd Davies: 

“Thank you for your hard work and for supporting each other and those less fortunate than us.” 

To sign up to The Conveyancing Foundation’s legal fee competition or to make a donation, please contact pr@conveylaw.com. 

Today's Conveyancer: Property expert views on conveyancing transaction hold-ups

Lloyd Davies MD of The Conveyancing Academy was approached by Today’s Conveyancer to provide his expert opinion on how conveyancing transactions can be sped up.

Today's Conveyancer reports:

Transactions already underway in the sector may not complete before the deadline due to hold ups and delays because of unprecedented pressures on the conveyancing industry  – But who in the sector is causing the hold ups?

There has been a big debate over transaction delays, more recently in the last few weeks, due to the sheer volume of purchases being processed in response to the easing of restrictions after lockdowns, and of course the stamp duty holiday ending on March 31 next year.

After property sector industry bodies collaborated and sent an open and frank letter to the Chancellor urging him to extend the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) holiday, conveyancing professionals voiced their concerns over the lack of SDLT extension in the Chancellor’s spending review last month.

Rob Hailstone, chief executive of the Bold Legal Group has said that some mortgage lenders are making the current delays in the housebuying process worse as some lenders are struggling under the current pressure of work. He said: 

“Conveyancers are finding it difficult to get confirmation that the Certificate of Title (requesting the mortgage money for completion) has been received and all is in order for completion. They are also experiencing difficulty when requesting and receiving redemption figures in good time.

“Some firms won’t now exchange until the CoT has been submitted and it has been acknowledged that there is no problem”

It has been confirmed by one lender that they no longer produce redemption figures in advance of the completion date and that instead they only produce them ‘on the day.’

Hailstone asks:

“How are conveyancers supposed to prepare for completion if they can’t obtain a redemption figure – not even an indicative one – in advance of completion?”

Conveyancers, lenders, surveyors, estate agents and local authorities have been working tirelessly since the Chancellor’s announcement of SDLT holiday – where house buyers are exempt from paying the property tax on the first £500,000. It is due to end on March 31st 2021 but the scheme has caused a huge surge in the housing market.

Hailstone continues:

“This is not a finger pointing exercise, that would be unfair and unwarranted whilst we are in these uncharted waters.

“Conveyancers, surveyors, local authorities and others are all finding it difficult to work efficiently 100 per cent of the time. However, the role of the lender, in issuing offers, processing requests for redemption statements and releasing mortgage funds is vital.”

Conveyancers took to LinkedIn to air their struggles in the last few days with one particular lender, HSBC, one conveyancer said:

“We have all been struggling to get through to them on the phone let us know if [they] get any better!”

Another conveyancer commented:

“Didn’t release our funds today….Phone calls cutting off, hours of waiting times. Awful.”

In the Bank of England’s Money and Credit report it was revealed that mortgage approvals were at their highest levels in over a decade, detailing that mortgage approvals are at a 13-year high, with an additional £4.3bn secured borrowing in October.

This month, Today’s Conveyancer reported on how lenders were resourcing up for the current mortgage volumes – with the end of the first lockdown seeing a surge in home buying and demand for mortgages. Most staff in lending firms are working from home, apart from the branches, and have been working hard to keep up with the volume of business.

A HSBC UK spokesperson commented on conveyancers struggling to get through to use their services. They said:

“The mortgage market is very buoyant at this time and we are seeing high demand for our mortgages. We are aware that this has caused some service pressures, particularly on our Help Desk for solicitors, and while we have thousands of COTs completing every day without issue, we are continuing to work hard to put measures in place to meet that demand. We are seeing call wait times are falling as a consequence, but we apologise to those who have experienced delays. We have introduced an email acknowledgement on submission of Certificate of Title and also when funds are released, reducing the need for solicitors to ring us and to also provide confidence that the matter will complete.

Recognising that this is a busy time, we would appreciate support from conveyancers in ensuring they give us 6 days’ notice for release of funds.”

Lloyd Davies, MD of The Conveyancing Academy comments on transaction hold-ups. He said:

“The conveyancing market is incredibly busy at the moment leading into Christmas and there is enormous pressure on all aspects of the conveyancing process and, in particular, lenders are struggling to keep pace with the demands. Conveyancers, more often than not, will not exchange contracts until they are sure that funds will be received from the lender. Conveyancers are often having to spend hours holding on the telephone to lenders to ensure funds are going to be received or redemption statements are reconfirmed.

“Moving forward, lenders need to be using portals to receive and confirm funds requests and to deal with queries. Having to fax or deal with lenders over the phone is archaic in this day and age, especially when these online portal facilities are already available to the lending community.

“The most organised conveyancers are now using the CA ‘Code for Completion’ which allows for an easier moving day experience for clients, with funds being transferred to the conveyancer on the other side the day before completion and being held to order. The clients are then able to move as they would like to on the day of completion, without waiting on funds being received by the other side.

“The current situation will only get worse leading up to the 31st March and the end of the present SDLT holiday. All industry stakeholders are campaigning for an extension to take the heat out of the market, failing which thousands of transactions are likely to miss the deadline due to the current backlog and delays. We also need a buoyant housing market come the spring to restart the economy and the SDLT holiday has certainly moved the property market forward in recent months, with record volumes of property transactions.”

Industry Leading Conveyancing Training Academy Experiences Phenomenal Growth

The Conveyancing industry is currently experiencing exponential growth, with Indeed reporting a 130% growth (over 900 roles), in the conveyancing sector since July.  

With a reported 21% increase in residential transactions during September compared to August and the continuous rise in demand in the property market in England and Wales, a lack of qualified conveyancers has forced many practices to overstep the maximum level of caseloads being handled by Conveyancers.   

Since 2014, the Conveyancing Academy has supported the conveyancing industry by developing staff and training complete novices into skilled and competent Conveyancers within 6 to 12 months through their Conveyancing Courses and Apprenticeship Pathway. The Academy currently collaborates with over 100 companies across England and Wales supporting them with their training needs.  

In recent months, The Conveyancing Academy’s online Apprentice Training Programme has grown by a phenomenal 260%, with the number of students increasing from 45 in January 2020 to 165 in November, allowing practices across England and Wales to increase their revenue and caseload capabilities.   

The Conveyancing Academy was established in 2014 after Residential Conveyancing practice Convey Law identified a lack of Conveyancers in the industry and lack of practical conveyancing courses covering all elements of hands-on conveyancing training.  

The Conveyancing Academy has recently secured Government funding for all new Apprenticeships, with up to up to 110% Government funding available in England and Wales. The new Government Scheme provides for a £2000 incentive for any Apprentice employed under 25 and a £1500 incentive for any Apprentice employed over 25. This incentive is only in place until March 31st, 2021. 

The Academy’s Pathway allows Trainees to seamlessly transition from Level 3 Practicing Conveyancer Apprenticeship which is ideal for new and non-qualified Conveyancers, to Level 4 Conveyancing Technician Apprenticeship and finally the Level 6 where they qualify as a regulated Licensed Conveyancer. 

Sean McCarthy, Conveyancer, Convey Law:  

“Having the ability to do the course online in my own time is really helping me to achieve my goal of becoming a Licenced Conveyancer. The Level 3 Apprenticeship Diploma has increased my knowledge of more specific areas of conveyancing such as pre-contract enquires, searches, mortgage offers and exchanging contracts. My Tutor is so supportive. She is always there to provide feedback and responds to calls and emails promptly”. 

Over the past 6 years Academy Tutors, have delivered over 35,000 hours of training to over 800 trainees across England and Wales. The Academy is accredited and regulated by the Scottish Qualification Authority and the Education and Skills Funding Agency. It is the training organisation of choice for both the Conveyancing Association and the Society of Licensed Conveyancers. 

To support your business growth, find out more about Academy Training Courses and available Funding on the Academy website or contact the team on 01633 261295. 

Today's Conveyancer: To train or not to train; that is the question

Today's Conveyancer reports:

Lloyd Davies is Managing Director of The Conveyancing Academy and Convey Law shares his thoughts on Training vs Recruitment.

As Today’s Conveyancer continues to report, conveyancing vacancies on the Indeed recruitment site have seen 130% growth since July.

The property market continues to boom, with sales agreed so far in 2020 surpassing the 2019 total.

For those businesses whose role it is to service this demand, their ability to cope has been restricted by capacity. In terms of recruitment, staffing has been a major challenge. There has been a considerable shift in the ways of working such as working from home, furlough, and the ongoing impact of illness and self-isolation which can hamper delivery.

Haven’t we been here before?

Following the loss of many Conveyancing experts in the previous recession, Convey Law in discussion with fellow leading practitioners in the Conveyancing field, identified the need to recruit new staff and train them quickly.

But is recruitment always the answer? There is a great deal of uncertainty around the impact of the so-called ‘cliff edge’ at the end of the SDLT holiday in March; will property transactions tail off, will they remain constant, will buyers pull out ahead of March because they know they won’t meet the Stamp Duty deadline?

Could this leave many of the conveyancers recruited to cope with demand twiddling their thumbs?

The middle ground here is to both recruit and look to upskill existing staff.

The Apprenticeship Programme at Convey Law has trained complete novices into competent conveyancing professionals within 6 to 12 months.

Training is provided in-house by accredited and experienced Tutors, in state-of-the-art training facilities. Our Apprenticeship Pathway provides the most effective and valuable apprenticeship experience, increasing engagement, productivity, and transferable skills.

Our Apprenticeship Programme has had a direct benefit to our Apprentices by providing an excellent career pathway, salary increases at key training milestones and a great training environment.

Developing our Apprenticeship Pathway was critical as we could not engage sufficient Conveyancers to grow our business. We also identified the need to support existing employees through a structured, consistent, hands-on training pathway.

Despite a huge recruitment drive, we found a lack of Conveyancers in the industry was holding us back from achieving our targets.

As a result, in 2014 we developed our own academic Apprenticeship Courses for staff to learn, develop and grow. This allowed us to employ Apprentices with no previous legal experience and train them into qualified conveyancers. We have now trained over 60 Trainee Conveyancers through our in-house Apprenticeship Programme.

The Practicing Conveyancer Legal Diploma which is available through The Conveyancing Academy, allows legal practices to recruit new staff and develop their skills quickly. The course is designed for both Trainee Solicitors and new and non-qualified Conveyancers and offers practical knowledge allowing companies to train complete novices into competent and fee earning Conveyancers within 6 to 12 months.

Individuals quickly get up to speed with all the rudimentaries of practising conveyancing, from taking instructions to completing transactions. A very intensive 6-month Training Programme allows Trainees to be exposed to greater responsibility from an early stage, resulting in the overall training process being short-circuited compared to the lengthy traditional training procedure.

Training provides individuals with both academic and legal knowledge, combined with the practical application of the skills taught during the course. The Trainee is prepared to manage their own caseload highly effectively.

Consider the often quoted corporate dilemma of investing in employees…

“What if we train them and they leave?” says the CFO to the CEO; “what if we don’t and they stay!?” is the response.

Author: Lloyd Davies is Managing Director of The Conveyancing Academy and Convey Law

Industry Thought Leader Lloyd Davies Provides BBC News His View On The Government’s Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Holiday

Lloyd Davies, Managing Director of The Conveyancing Academy explains why extending the Stamp Duty Tax Holiday would benefit those working in the property industry and those in the process of buying property.

BBC News reports:

Solicitors ask local authorities to carry out the searches on issues including planning and traffic.

Telor Dyer, a residential conveyancer in Carmarthenshire, said waiting times in some parts of Wales had doubled to 30 working days.

Pembrokeshire council said it had a backlog after the lockdown in March.

The Conveyancing Association warned the backlog facing local authorities was "becoming a significant issue".

Local authority searches show details about a property such as whether it is a listed building or in a conservation area. These details can have an effect on future planning works to the property.

Not a 'unique issue'

Pembrokeshire council, one of the local authorities facing difficulties, said it would not be processing any new searches "other than those deemed urgent" due to its backlog.

Issues, the council said, included the inability to access County Hall, where searches have to be checked against maps stored there, followed by the unprecedented demand in property sales since the lifting of restrictions.

But a council spokesperson said this was "not an issue unique to Pembrokeshire - many other local authorities are working to a 40-day turn around".

The spokesperson said their usual turnaround for searches was seven to 10 days, but due to the pressures on the service, they have implemented an average 20-day turnaround to work through the backlog.

"The matter is being kept under constant review."

Residential conveyancer Mr Dyer, based in St Clears, said he had seen significant delays and that they were down to a property boom and staff shortages.

"Usually, we anticipate, searches would take 10 to 15 working days, but now it's taking 30 working days." 

"There's nothing we can do speed things up. We have had sellers pull out and there's nothing we can do about it."

Rebecca Goldsworthy, director and head of residential property in south-east Wales for JCP Solicitors, said local searches were an important part of the buying process.

"There's nothing we can do about that other than advise our clients there is a bit of a wait. We are concerned another lockdown period will cause further delay," 

"A delay with searches will hold up the chains."

Stamp Duty Tax Holiday

Meanwhile, the Conveyancing Association has called on the government to extend the Stamp Duty Tax Holiday (SDTH) which currently ends in March 2021 in light of these delays.

In Wales, the SDTH has meant the starting threshold for land transaction tax has increased from £180,000 to £250,000 for the residential main rates until 31 March 2021.

Lloyd Davies, operations director of the Conveyancing Association, said their member firms, who undertake about 30% of all property transactions in England and Wales, were in a similar position and were 130% to 150% over capacity at the moment.

"We are calling upon the government to relieve the pressure by extending the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday until 2022 as a minimum - otherwise there will be a very large number of disappointed people and aborted transactions that will not meet this current deadline." 

The Welsh Government said the temporary changes to land transaction tax were specific time-limited measures intended to support the housing market and broader economy in Wales during the remainder of this financial year but were kept under regular review.