The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


Smyth Calls for Govt. Support As New Jobs Created by M&S Contracts

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging Scottish and UK Government agencies to support Pinneys workers to help secure new jobs being created at Cavaghan and Gray in Carlisle.

Owners of the Carlisle plant-2Sisters-have announced they will be creating 200 jobs at the site to carry out new contracts with Marks and Spencer. 

The news comes as workers at Pinneys in Annan factory are leaving their jobs ahead of its shutdown in the next few weeks- as a result of owners Young’s Seafood not continuing with their Marks and Spencer contracts.

Commenting on the news Colin Smyth said, “The so-called Action Group set up to find a future for Pinneys of Annan has been a huge damp squib, summed up by the fact they don’t even communicate with the local community or local politicians anymore. Both the Scottish and UK Government’s promised to pull out all the stops to find a buyer for Pinneys and jobs for the workforce but so far have achieved very little.

The big challenge workers at Pinneys face is the fact that there aren’t hundreds of vacancies in the Dumfriesshire area for those losing employment at the site, so many people will look to Cumbria for work. It’s somewhat perverse that Pinneys is closing because Young’s Seafood have pulled out of contracts with M&S at a time 2Sisters have secured contracts with M&S. But it means the Pinneys workforce have the skills and experience to carry out that work at 2Sisters and although expansion at the Cumbrian site will take time, I hope that both UK and Scottish Government agencies support any Pinneys workers to secure posts in Carlisle. 2Sisters attended the recent job summit in Annan, so it’s clear they are recruiting now and hopefully that will help at least some of the Pinneys workers facing such an uncertain future”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce comment on Migration Statistics

The latest Migration Statistics report from the ONS has seen the number of EU citizens coming to work in the UK continuing to fall. Over the past year, there has been a decrease of 24,000 in the number of EU citizens coming to the UK with a definite job in place.

Commenting on the figures, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“The latest migration statistics further emphasise the pressing need for Government to take urgent action to address the uncertainty and decline of this critical talent pool.

“Quarterly and annual falls in the number of workers coming to the UK from the EU seeking a permanent job, specifically across the EU15 and the EU8, will continue to exacerbate the record skills shortages that have been worsening over the past year.  A fall in the number of workers coming from the EU seeking speculative work, particularly from the EU8, is generating additional pressure on the ability of Scottish firms to employ vital workers.

“Scotland’s world-leading sectors need to see a pro-active Government working to urgently reverse this decline and to put in place contingency plans to limit any damage to business. The private sector in Scotland is playing its part by investing in training of existing staff and supporting initiatives such as Developing the Young Workforce, it’s time the UK Government plays its role too.

“Our expectations are clear and we will look for the Immigration White Paper to address these concerns urgently.”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce comment on Brexit Technical Notices

Commenting on the publication of the UK Government's technical notices aimed at giving businesses and consumers advice on the implications of a 'no deal' exit from the European Union, Liz Cameron, Director and Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

"The publication of the technical notices, whilst long overdue, are a helpful start for businesses to plan and prepare in the event of a no UK-EU deal on 30th March 2019. More detailed information is still needed if businesses are expected to trade as smoothly as possible in such a scenario, and Ministers must outline the steps being taken to limit delays or increased red tape.

"It is disappointing that businesses are still expected to wait for several weeks for further guidance and clarification. With the UK's imminent exit from the EU, we cannot afford any more delays which impacts on the ability of business to plan, prepare and trade."

On VAT for businesses:

"The Government has responded to the call from the business community on import VAT by introducing postponed accounting for imports, covering imports from EU and non-EU markets. By acting in the interests of the private sector, the Government has avoided the prospect of businesses having to pay VAT immediately on each cross-border transaction, which could have impacted on cash flow."

On trading with the EU and customs arrangements:

"In the event of a no-deal scenario, it is looking likely that businesses trading between the EU and the UK will be hit immediately with increased customs controls. Businesses will have to be ready for customs declarations, safety inspections, tariffs and new licenses, all from day one, and preparation for this possibility will have to begin now.

"Despite some practical advice in the notices, there are areas which remain to be addressed. We will continue to pose questions on the practicalities of these arrangements, and the ability of the UK’s customs system to manage the substantial additional administrative burdens that would arise from this transition.”

On banking, insurance and other financial services:

"The technical notice on financial services outlines a commitment to ensuring a temporary passporting arrangement for EEA firms, allowing them to continue to operate financial services in the UK while they seek full authorisation from UK regulators.

“While the UK Government is acting to provide some clarity of direction for EEA firms based in the UK, UK firms currently passporting into the EEA, and their customers, continue to face uncertainty.  The impact of this highlights the need for a constructive deal to be reached, but continued uncertainty around this area has already caused several firms to press ahead with contingency plans, by opening additional subsidiaries or moving staff.

“The notice also outlines some of the challenges that UK businesses and consumers will face in light of a no deal, with the potential of more expensive, slower processing for Euro transactions, increased costs for card payments, and surcharges on transactions.  Outcomes such as this, which diminish the competitiveness of UK firms and the spending power of our consumers, must be avoided.”

On guarantees for EU-funded programmes:


“EU-funded projects provide substantial benefits to businesses, our communities and our leading research institutions.  It is positive to see the UK Government reiterate its commitment to ensure that UK based organisations are guaranteed funding across a range of EU initiatives, with many being guaranteed up until 2020.  SCC welcome these commitments, but the government must ensure that schemes set up to guarantee funding are practical and streamlined, to avoid further disruption.”


It is “vital for the future of the South of Scotland economy” that both the UK and Scottish Governments back the Borderlands Growth Deal in their forthcoming budget, according to Labour MSP Colin Smyth.

The local MSP made his comments as a report to this a meeting of Scottish Borders Council on 30 August will confirm that the five councils involved in developing the proposals aim to formally submit “an overview and strategic outline business case” to the two governments by the end of September. This would pave the way for the Scottish and UK Governments to set aside specific funding when they propose their budgets later this year- with the UK budget expected in November and the draft Scottish budget being published during December.

The Borderlands Initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth and competitiveness of the area which straddles the Scotland-England border.

The local councils have worked together to develop a set of formal proposals for projects they are seeking Government funding for. It covers areas such as broadband, transport links and support for key business sectors such as tourism, energy and the rural enterprises. The plans also include the provision of smooth access into further and higher education on both sides of the border with a ‘border blind’ approach to skills and educational funding. This will help grow the working population with a focus on retaining and attracting young and working age people by increasing the number of high value jobs.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth MSP said, “The momentum behind the Borderlands is building and it’s now up to the UK and Scottish Governments to step up to the mark and start to play their part. We’ve had plenty of warm words, but what we need is hard cash when it comes to the budgets later this year. Everyone knows the growth deal won’t be a panacea as the money will be spread out over ten years and divided between five councils.

However, ensuring that it delivers substantial investment is vital for the future of the South of Scotland economy. That means funding from Government but also the local councils making sure the deal is ambitious. Some other deals have been plagued by having lots of little pet projects that are nice to have but you would be hard pressed to work out what impact hey will have on economic growth. We need to ensure the Borderlands deal is substantial and transformative. There has been talk of a £250 m package over ten years but the recent Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal is worth £90.2m to an area with a population of 140,000 people- or around £644 per person. If we had the same deal per person in the Borderlands that would be worth £700m. Why should our area be treated differently from others or receive less funding? It’s time for a fair share here in the Borderlands.”

Dumfries company More Organised chosen as a #SmallBiz100

Dumfries professional decluttering and organising service More Organised has been selected as one of this year’s #SmallBiz100 as part of the nationwide Small Business Saturday campaign.

Each year, the team behind the Small Business Saturday campaign select 100 UK small businesses to support in the run up to what is generally considered the busiest shopping day in the calendar, the first Saturday in December. This year Small Business Saturday takes place on Saturday 1st December.

In each of the 100 days running up to Small Business Saturday, the team promote one of the #SmallBiz100 on social media and in the local and national press. The Small Business Saturday campaign will be celebrating and promoting More Organised on 11th September.

But the 100-day campaign is much wider than that, with all small businesses across the UK and their customers invited to take part. Among other events, the Small Business Saturday bus travels up and down the UK, hosting workshops, Q&A sessions and business exhibitions around the country.

Owner of More Organised Mel Carruthers says: “I am delighted that More Organised has was chosen as one of the 100 from amongst 1000s of entries! The only business in Dumfries & Galloway to have been selected for the accolade this year, and one of five in Scotland. It’s also the first time that a member of the professional organising industry has been chosen, so I am thrilled to be flying the flag for my profession! I’ve long been an advocate of buying from local, independent shops and services, and I am excited that this accolade gives me a platform to shout loud about supporting our small businesses nationwide”.

More Organised was founded by Mel Carruthers to help families, homes and businesses get decluttered and organised. Following the success of her blog whilst living in Dubai, Mel quit her corporate job in the Middle East last summer and moved back to Dumfries to build her business.