The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

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


MP urges council caution with tax increase power

A rise in the council tax increase cap from an above inflation three to 4.79 per cent has been condemned by Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack.

The measure was in SNP Scottish Government's Budget which passed a vital vote at Holyrood last week with the support of Green MSPs.

As a result of the agreement, local authorities will have the option of hitting households with a larger than anticipated council tax rise in the 2019/20 financial year which begins in April.

Mr Jack, a former member of the UK Treasury Select Committee, warned that should the full rise be imposed in Dumfries and Galloway, one of Scotland's lowest wage economies, it would add to hardship facing many households.

He said: "I would urge council members to avoid the temptation of imposing the maximum increase available when they decide on the council tax level for this region later in the month.

"Scotland already has higher taxes than other parts of the UK which is damaging competitiveness and the economy."

He pointed out that the UK Government was increasing Scottish Government's block grant by £521 million in real terms in 2019/20, providing an opportunity to SNP Ministers to offer greater support to local authorities.

Mr Jack also opposed a commitment in SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay's Budget to explore introducing legislation allowing councils the power to impose a 'tourist tax.'



He said that such a levy could prove particularly damaging in Dumfries and Galloway where tourism is an increasingly important industry and employer.

Mr Jack added: "We are right next to Cumbria and the Lake District, which is currently free of such a tax, so to impose a levy on accommodation here could drive potential visitors south of the border."

Region could be hit by triple tax bombshell

Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has warned that the region could set to be hit with a ‘triple tax bombshell’.



The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP’s claim comes after the SNP and Greens agreed a Budget deal last week which gave councils the power to raise council tax by almost five per cent, potentially introduce a tourist tax on visitors and hitting employers with a so-called ‘car park tax’ at work.

Mr Carson believes this potential ‘triple tax bombshell’ could be damaging for Dumfries and Galloway, with tourism such an important industry for the area and a huge number of workers relying on cars to get to their workplaces.

The constituency MSP also hit out at the SNP’s continued underfunding of councils with Dumfries and Galloway facing a further cut in their budget this year putting local services and jobs under further risk despite an increase in the block grant from Westminster.

The plans for a workplace tax levy have also been thrown into confusion by comments from South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine, on Representing Border, where she appeared to go against the plans, saying “I wouldn’t imagine it would be enacted in the south of Scotland to be perfectly honest with you.”

Commenting Finlay Carson MSP said: “The Budget agreed between the SNP and the Greens is completely unravelling, the more we learn about it.

“In order to get the Greens on board, the SNP have agreed to a whole host of potential taxes which would have a detrimental effect right across Dumfries and Galloway.

“Hard working families could be punished with council tax rises of almost five per cent, a direct result of the SNP’s failure to properly fund our councils over their decade in power.

“Furthermore, councils have the power to charge visitors to the region as well as potentially hitting people for taking a car to work.

“Tourism is such a major industry to the region and I have already heard concerns from businesses if this was imposed in this region about the impact on the local economy.

“Hardworking families will be completely dismayed at the prospect of being hammered even further for simply having the audacity to use their car to travel to work.

“And now we see Joan McAlpine pour scorn on her own party’s idea, before it has even got off the ground.

“The SNP and Greens must recognise that their Budget is only going to deliver a ‘triple tax bombshell’ for Dumfries and Galloway and is completely misguided.”

“I have real concerns looking towards the local councils budget.

“The SNP Government’s underfunding of our local authority combined with the appalling track-record of the Labour administration in regards to growing our local economy, we face the prospect of a ‘Pay more, get less’ budget, with misguided policies that favour hand-outs over hand-ups.


South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has raised the future of Ellisland Farm in the Scottish Parliament.


Colin Smyth questioned Government Ministers on the work the Scottish Government is currently doing to promote Robert Burn’s legacy in the South of Scotland. He raised the work of the Ellisland Farm Trust who have developed exciting plans to preserve Robert Burn’s legacy at Ellisland by transforming Robert Burn’s former home in to a world tourist attraction.

The farm, at Auldgirth, was gifted to the nation in 1928 by two Durisdeer brothers “for the contemplation of the life and works” of the Bard.

Speaking after the question in Parliament Colin Smyth said, “The Ellisland Trust have developed exciting plans to save and preserve the history of Ellisland and create a new world class tourist attraction.

On the back of my question to the Scottish Government in Parliament I have written to the Minister to formlaly invite him to Ellisland Farm to meet with the Trustees and to learn more about their plans. The plans drawn up the Trust help to celebrate Robert Burn’s life and works and continue his legacy both locally to Dumfries and to the country as a whole. That is why I hope Scottish Government Ministers will meet with the Trust in due course and back the plans that have been developed.”

Bootcamp for companies new to Trading Internationally

Are you a Scottish Borders business who would like to start to trade internationally?  Get ready to grow your business abroad with our help. 



Scottish Development International in partnership with Business Gateway and South of Scotland Export Partnership are hosting an introductory bootcamp in Galashiels on the 26 February 2019.

When: Tuesday 26 February 2019
Where: Galashiels Interchange, Galashiels, TD1 1BY
Times: 9am for 9.30am start, finishing at 5pm
Cost: Fully Funded
RSVP: registration

Learn how to reach international markets with confidence and get practical know-how on international market opportunities, routes to market and international finance, contracts and logistics. It’s the perfect primer for a company new to exporting thinking about international growth.

What are the benefits?

  •             How to effectively research and exploit international opportunities
  •             What market entry options are right for your business
  •             Hints and tips for effective international marketing
  •             How to develop your value proposition for your international customer
  •             How to effectively navigate some of the technical aspects of exporting including export documentation, and developing your international pricing strategy to what currency to be paid in
  •             Next steps for your business
  •             The export opportunity for Scottish companies
  •             The decision to export, and planning for export success – opportunities and challenges including starting to prepare for Brexit and the implications
  •             The importance of good export market research in selecting your priority export markets, and sources of research and support available to you
  •             The pros and cons of the different routes to market
  •             Effective pricing for international markets
  •             1-2-1 Action Plan Support
  •             Developing your export market proposition
  •             The role of International Exhibitions and Trade Shows
  •             Cultural and Language considerations
  •             Agency and Distribution Agreements
  •             Protecting Yourself in International Markets
  •             Export contracts and key export documentation
  •             Logistics, labelling and IP considerations
  •             Sources of support and help
  •          1-2-1 Company Support and Completion of Your Export Action Plan - all attendees will be helped to prepare an Export Action Plan to help them to achieve their objectives and understand how this fits into their overall strategy for export
  •          Presentation of individual Export Action Plans and Feedback

You will also benefit from having the resources to develop your own international action plan to implement into your businessand have the opportunity to network with other like-minded businesses.

Where and When?

Our Bootcamp for companies new to trading internationally is run over one day and will be held at Galashiels Interchange, Galashiels, TD1 1BY from 9.30 to 5.00 pm. 

Scottish Enterprise's Preparing to Export Programme is fully funded to Scottish companies and is part funded through the European Structural and Investment Funds (Investing in a Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Future). You should note that this support is a form of state aid, and on attendance it will count towards your overall De Minimis allowance

Who should attend? 

If you’re an ambitious company ready to take on the challenge of developing your business internationally and your export capability, then this is for you.

What’s covered? 9.30 to 5.00 pm


Session One: Market Analysis and Research

Session Two: Routes to Market



 Session Three: International Marketing

Session Four: Legal and Technical Aspects of Exporting

Session Five: Completion of Your Export Plan and One to One’s with an Export Adviser

How to attend:

Places are limited so sign up quickly to secure your place.

Here’s how previous attendees to recent one day export workshops benefitted:

“Mapped out all the areas; helps stop us from missing an area and minimising risk” (Edinburgh Beer Factory)

“Good coverage of exporting. Really useful to signpost all resources available. Conveyed pitfalls and risks of exporting. Excellent speaker – knowledgeable and engaging (Lessels)

Scottish Government announces new social media and screen time guidance, produced by and for young people.

Announcing the Scottish Government will produce new guidance, specific to Scotland, on the healthy use of social media and screen time for young people, Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said:

“Social media has become a part of everyday life, and it’s difficult to imagine our day-to-day routines without it. It can be used in a hugely positive way, to empower and to connect people, particularly young people.

“However, what is important is ensuring that we all know what the healthy use of social media and screens looks like. Consequently, I welcome the joint guidance for parents published today from the Chief Medical Officers, including Scotland’s own Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood.

“We recognise there are general links between unhealthy use of social media and lower mental wellbeing in children and young people. We know this because young people themselves have told us.

“I’m also pleased to announce, during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, that the Scottish Government will be producing new guidance, specific to Scotland, on the healthy use of social media and screen time for young people. We want it to be world-leading, and for it to matter to young people.

“This work will be produced with, and for, young people. They will be at its very heart. The guidance will look at positive, healthy ways in which young people can use social media to maintain their own good mental health, as well as focusing on things to avoid. It will also cover interests across the Scottish Government including Education, Child Protection and Digital Participation, as well as many others.”