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The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service projects prove their worth

Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service (DAGCAS) as part of a nationwide campaign have implemented projects to support those in the region who are experiencing severe financial difficulties and for those who are unsure about or struggling to make their first Universal Credit claim.

Since November 2018 our Financial Health Check helpline and face to face advisers have helped clients to claim their benefits and other entitlements including utility savings to a value of nearly quarter of a million pounds.

 

The new Help to Claim project which was launched on April 1st 2019 has already supported people to claim Universal Credit to the value of £33,500.

 

Sue Irving Chief Executive at DAGCAS said “ Dumfries & Galloway Citizens Advice Service are committed to ensuring that nobody in our region suffers through poverty and receives  the benefits, entitlements and best value service that help them achieve a better quality of life”

 

To access the Financial Health Check service, to speak to an adviser, call 0800 085 7145

 

To access the Help to Claim service, to speak to an adviser, call 0800 023 2581

 

To access the Help to Claim service in person, contact your local citizens advice bureau. You can find your nearest bureau at: www.dagcas.org 

 

To access the Help to Claim service online through web chat, please click on this link: https://www.cas.org.uk/helptoclaim

Our dedicated specialist advisers are here to offer impartial advice and support to anyone who may need help with the process.

SCC Comment on Scottish Government’s U-Turn on Air Departure Tax

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s announcement to scrap the reduction and abolition of Air Departure Tax, Liz Cameron OBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The Scottish Government have performed an alarming u-turn on their promise to abolish Air Departure Tax, abandoning their long-term commitment to Scotland’s business community. Despite years of consultation with Scottish industry and detailed technical and economic evaluations that prove this measure would act as an economic enabler and create jobs in Scotland,  this decision will have a significant and deleterious impact on the Scottish economy. 

“This decision will do nothing to reduce emissions. Instead, it will cut Scotland off at the knees in terms of connectivity and a competitive playing field.  Without world-class transport connections, Scotland’s efforts to trade internationally will be hampered at a critical point in time where the need to boost our exports has never been  greater.  

“Likewise, failing to bring aviation taxes in line with other European regions will diminish the benefits that tourism brings to our economy. Tourism is an important employer in Scotland and its success also creates and maintains jobs in every sector of the economy. This is an additional tax which not only targets businesses who rely on getting their people and goods to customers, but also targets wider consumers and communities in every part of Scotland.

“We welcome the efforts the aviation industry and others have made to dramatically reducing CO2 emissions and this progress is continuing. We applaud the Scottish Government’s commitment to moving to net zero emissions more quickly than the rest of the UK and recognise the urgency of the issues facing the earth's delicate ecosystem. 

“The Committee on Climate Change has outlined how Scotland and her land, for example, forest development, will play a significant and even outsize role if the UK is to prevent climate change. But we must also ensure that we are not economically hamstrung in the race to meet increasingly stringent emissions targets.  There needs to be a balance and an effective, qualitative, dialogue with business and the wider community. We would urge all political parties to reconsider and reach a balanced judgement.”

 

MSP HOSTS SOUTH OF SCOTLAND ENTERPRISE BILL BREAKFAST ROUNDTABLE

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has today (7 May) hosted a breakfast roundtable on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill today in Dumfries.

 

 

The Roundtable gathered the views of local stakeholders on the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill and suggested amendments. Attendees included representatives of local business, including both Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders Chambers of Commerce, community organisations and the public sector.

The breakfast roundtable took place ahead of the beginning of the second stage of the legislation process for the South of Scotland Enterprise Bill which will establish a new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. The second stage is carried out by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee which will consider and vote on key amendments to the Bill on Wednesday.

More than half the proposed amendments to the bill have been tabled by Colin Smyth and include proposals to make it a legal requirement for the new agency to consult people in the south of Scotland on their proposed action plan as well as performance. At present the Bill only means the new Agency reports to Government Ministers in Edinburgh.

The local MSPs amendments also include a requirement for the new Agency’s action plan to be reviewed on an annual basis, the need for all other national agencies such as VisitScotland to work with new agency and set out what they will do to support the economy of the South of Scotland.

Colin Smyth has also proposed that the new Agency must have a Trade Union representative on the new board and the overall board membership must reflect all parts of the South of Scotland.

Colin Smyth said, “Having campaigned for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency for a decade it is important we get the Bill right. That means ensuring that we listen to local organisations to create an Agency that is rooted in the South. As the bill currently stands there is no requirement for the new agency to consult people in the south of Scotland and it would only report to Ministers in Edinburgh. I’m determined to change that to ensure there is proper accountability to the people of the South of Scotland

As the only MSP from the South of Scotland who sits on the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee who will be voting on amendments to the bill, I was pleased to hear the views of local stakeholders as the bill passes through Parliament. It is only by working with local businesses and organisations that we will create an Agency that unlocks the huge economic potential in the South of Scotland and grow our economy.”

 

Speaking after the event DGChamber's Lee Medd said

"Events like these are crucial, we only get one chance to set up an agency so being able to get businesses and organisations around the table to discuss how it should take shape and invaluable. Being able to speak with businesses from Stranraer to Langholm we've found that people are excited about the opportunities that the new agency can provide, but are also keen to ensure that it represents the region. Events like this allow that local voice to be heard."

Businesses encouraged to apply for top awards

Dumfries and Galloway’s businesses have been urged to consider applying for one of the top industry awards. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise are designed to recognise and encourage outstanding achievements in the fields of Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility). The scheme was instituted by Royal Warrant in 1965 and the first Awards were made in 1966.

 

 

This year, 2019, 201 UK businesses have been recognised for their contribution to international trade, innovation, sustainable development and promoting opportunity (through social mobility). Eight of them are in Scotland, but none are from Dumfries and Galloway. 

61 for Innovation;
129 for International Trade;
5 for Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility); 6 for Sustainable Development.

Innovation

Innovation achievements are assessed for: invention, design or production of goods; performance of services; marketing and distribution; or, after-sale support of goods or services, that have realised outstanding commercial success over 2 years or continuous commercial success over 5 years.

International Trade

Winners have demonstrated that their business has achieved substantial growth in overseas earning and in commercial success (for their business size and sector) through either outstanding achievement over 3 years or continuous achievement over 6 years.

Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility)

This category recognises businesses and organisations that are providing high quality social mobility initiatives and programmes that specifically reach out and support people from disadvantaged backgrounds, in order to inspire and guide the best talent into their organisation and beyond.

The programmes include work experience, careers advice or mentoring for young people; offering non-graduate routes such as traineeships or changing recruitment practices; and, giving equal support and progression opportunities to all employees.

Sustainable Development

Winners in this category demonstrate commercially successful sustainable development practices. Sustainable development achievements are assessed for: invention, design or production of goods; performance of services; marketing and distribution; after-sale support of goods or services; or, management of resources or relationships with people and other organisations.

What happens if your company wins

If you win you'll be:

· invited to a Royal reception

· presented with the award at your company by one of The Queen's representatives, a Lord-Lieutenant

· able to fly The Queen's Awards flag at your main office, and use the emblem on your marketing materials (for example, on your packaging, advertisements, stationery and website)

· given a Grant of Appointment (an official certificate) and a commemorative crystal trophy

The awards are valid for 5 years.

Winners have reported benefiting from worldwide recognition, increased commercial value, greater press coverage and a boost to staff morale.

Eligibility

To apply for the Queen's Award for Enterprise your organisation must:

· be based in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)

· file its Company Tax Returns with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

· be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services and is under its own management

· have at least 2 full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents

· demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility

Your organisation can be a business or non-profit.

Each of the award categories has additional entry criteria.

International Trade

To apply for the International Trade award, you must also:

· have made a minimum of £100,000 in overseas sales in the first year of your entry and show year-on-year growth

· prove that your organisation has achieved outstanding growth in overseas earnings relative to your business size and sector

· prove steep year-on-year growth (without dips) in overseas sales over 3 years - or substantial year-on-year growth (without dips) over 6 years

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK https://www.queensawardsmagazine.com/

Report handed to Minister, It's Time for a National Park in Galloway

During a short stopover at Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment met with representatives of the Galloway National Park Association, Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership. Her visit fulfilled her promise made in January to maintain a dialogue about a potential Galloway National Park.

 

She was presented with a new report “Galloway National Park – It’s our time” prepared by the Association setting out why they think it is time to establish such a Park. In the report the Association calls for the Minister to commission a feasibility study to examine the case in more detail.

Dame Barbara Kelly of GNPA said

“We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Galloway. It gave us the chance to describe to her the huge potential that exists in an area as beautiful as Galloway for good environmental management to provide the springboard for appropriate and genuinely sustainable economic development.

We believe that we have shown convincingly that a National Park is just what is needed to galvanise this process. There is plenty of evidence from elsewhere of the economic stimulus that National Parks provide. The tax revenue that this would generate should easily cover the cost of running a Park. But we accept that Government will want to be satisfied that the investment required really will pay off. In our view an independent publicly-led feasibility study is the obvious way to prove this one way or the other and that is what we are calling on Ministers to initiate.

Joan Mitchell, Chair of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere added

“The recognition by UNESCO of the high quality of this area brings a commitment to sustainable development which works for both people and nature. A National Park would reinforce this and bring in the extra resources and new skills to help we desperately need to achieve our potential.”

Pupils of Douglas Ewart High School delivered a short and impressive presentation on why they believe a National Park is right for Galloway. This was supported by a PowerPoint presentation by pupils from Castle Douglas High School who were unable to attend but were determined to add their voice.

The Douglas Ewart pupils then presented the Minister with the new GNPA publication.

The Minister responded

“I am delighted to be here as this is not a part of the country I know well, and I look forward to giving this report my fullest consideration. Please also be assured that I am happy to come down to Galloway to discuss this at any time”

McNabb Laurie, Team Leader of the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme commented

“Our projects all take inspiration from the area – its environment and its culture but are all about creating a better future for people living, working and visiting the area. The Galloway Glens scheme lasts for five years and it is important that the momentum that is now clearly building is able to be supported in the long term in the way that a National Park can.