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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.

 

MUNDELL’S AND UK GOVERNMENT’S INACTION OVER RBS CLOSURES “A GROSS DERELICTION OF DUTY”, SAYS LOCAL MSP

South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell of a “gross dereliction of duty” after the failure of the UK Government to intervene to save 62 branches of the Royal Bank of Scotland, including 16 branches in the South Scotland Scottish Parliamentary region

The local MSPs comments come evidence is being given by the Scottish Chamber Network to the UK Parliament Scottish Affairs Committee this week (Wednesday 17 January)  calling on the UK Government to step in to stop communities being left without a bank branch. It follows research that shows the UK Government owned RBS has slashed its branch network by 70 per cent in the last five years.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth in a Scottish Parliament debate last month urged the UK Government – which owns 71% of shares in the Royal Bank-  to intervene and stop the closures. In the debate Colin Smyth also called for a change in the law that would mean where a branch is the last bank in a town or village, a bank must carry out public consultation with its customers before proposing a closure and the final decision on closure should be made the independent Financial Conduct Authority not the bank itself.

Colin Smyth said, “The decision by the Royal Bank of Scotland and other banks to close down vital local bank branches is an example of big business putting profit before people. Not everybody is able to access online banking or travel the many miles to find a bank branch in a city or large town, so bank closures will mean in many cases elderly people or those in rural areas, and small businesses will be stranded without the facilities they need”.


“RBS closures, in particular, are an insult to local communities because they were saved by public money. It is the taxpayer who own the Royal Bank of Scotland which means the UK government has the power do the right thing and step in now to stop the closures and protect these vital community services. Their failure to do so is a dereliction of duty by David Mundell and the UK Government. It is frankly an embarrassment for Mr Mundell that as a result of these closures many of his constituents will need to travel to England to find their nearest Royal Bank of Scotland."“It is unacceptable for banks to plead poverty as an excuse for closing local banks while still paying out six and seven-figure sums to their top executives. The taxpayers who bailed them out just won’t buy that”.

“In many communities the closure of these branches will mean there is no longer a bank in towns and villages across our area. We need a change in the law that would mean a branch cannot be closed where there is clear local need. If we don’t have that change soon there will be no branch network left to save.”

Scottish Secretary meets engineers and apprentices as UK Government launches campaign to inspire the next generation

Scottish Secretary David Mundell visited a major engineering company to support a pioneering UK Government campaign to transform the way young people see engineering and boost numbers entering the profession.

Mr Mundell toured Mitsubishi Electric’s Livingston facility and met engineers and apprentices as the Year of Engineering was launched to highlight the scale of opportunity that careers in the industry hold for young people in the UK.

2018 is officially the Year of Engineering and will see a national drive in all corners of the country to inspire the young people who will shape our future.

Engineering is one of the most productive sectors in the UK, but a shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates every year is damaging growth. There is also widespread misunderstanding of engineering among young people and their parents and a lack of diversity in the sector – the workforce is 91% male and 94% white.

The new campaign is aimed at filling those gaps and changing misconceptions, and will see government and around 1,000 partners deliver a million inspiring experiences of engineering for young people, parents and teachers.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

It was great to be at Mitsubishi Electric to promote the UK Government’s Year of Engineering campaign and see engineers and apprentices in action. Scotland has a world class engineering sector which makes a major contribution to the UK’s economy. But there is a shortage of young people entering the profession in the UK and a lack of diversity. Our campaign will help address these challenges by increasing the understanding and awareness of this exciting career among young people and deliver a new generation of talented engineers.

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said:

Engineers – whether they are working on cutting-edge technology in aerospace, energy or artificial intelligence – are vital to the lifeblood of our economy.

We want to show young people and their parents the immense creativity, opportunity and value of the profession. By bringing them face to face with engineering role models and achievements we can send a clear message that engineering careers are a chance for all young people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or social background, to shape the future of this country and have a real impact on the lives of those around them.

Skills Minister, Anne Milton said:

I want to see everyone whatever their background, wherever they live to have a chance to get a rewarding career or job in engineering whether they come via a technical or academic route.

The Year of Engineering gives us a great opportunity to work together with business to inspire a new generation of world class engineers. We want to build the science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills that we need for a growing economy, as highlighted in the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Yoshihiro Sumida, company president of Mitsubishi Electric Air Conditioning Systems Europe (M-ACE) said:

Our Corporate Mission is to continually improve our technologies and services by applying creativity to all aspects of our business. Advanced Engineering is obviously a key to this as well as to the growth of our business here in Scotland. In this context we operate a well-established engineering apprenticeship programme in our factory, with the valued support of West Lothian College. I welcome the UK emphasis on improving engineering skills and we as a company will keep making contributions to this end.

All this week, engineers, businesses, schools and universities will be marking the launch of the campaign by celebrating the positive impact of engineering.

SCC Comment on December Inflation Figures

The latest inflation figures show CPI has fallen to 3.0% in December, from 3.1% in November.  Downward contributions from transport prices such as air fares, and recreational products such as video games, were some of the factors which led to an overall fall in the rate.    

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

"Today's figures show inflation dropping to 3% in December, signalling an ease for the first time since June 2017 and bringing the CPI rate below the near six year high it reached in November.

"Whilst it is too early to say whether this is the start of a long-term reduction in the rate of inflation, the reduced rate will begin to ease some of the pressure on household budgets. However, food inflation still remains at a near four year high and petrol prices rose sharply as the continued impact of Brexit and rising commodity prices and raw materials passed through supply chains. Data from Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network’s Economic Indicator also shows signs of companies potentially seeking to increase prices as it becomes more difficult for firms to absorb increasing cost pressures.

"Wage growth continues to lag well behind and it will be some time before this translates into people having more money in their pockets.

"The Monetary Policy Committee should be in no rush for another rate hike.  Keeping interest rates steady is the preferred option for business."

Council dismayed with IOM decision

The Leader and Depute of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Elaine Murray and Rob Davidson have today made a statement on behalf of our Council in reference to the decision by the Isle of Man Government to introduce new reporting proposals which will require Dumfries and Galloway based scallop fishing vessels to report to the IOM daily:

We are absolutely appalled to hear, that despite our strong opposition, the Isle of Man Government have decided to continue with their decision which will require scallop boats fishing in their waters to report to Manx ports daily from today, 15th January 2018.

Due to the failure of the IOM government to use the agreed process there has been no evidence made available to consider either the impact of fishers from UK ports custom and practice and associated ‘grandfather rights’ or the state of the current and future fisheries. This makes the Economic Impact to the devolved governments and the UK treasury as a whole difficult to properly quantify. However, our local industry sees it, in its current state with consideration of the variation as a whole, unsustainable for many due to not taking cognisance of 30 years of custom and practice.

The Food and Drink Sector is a priority for this Council and the fishing and fish processing industries are an important part of that sector and therefore our local economy, making it a top priority for this Council. We predicted when this was first announced in December that this would have a devastating effect on our scallop industry, both from Kirkcudbright and Dumfries and Galloway in general and could affect the livelihoods of hundreds of people employed in the sector.

When we first heard of the Isle of Man Government’s proposals we acted quickly to what we perceive to be a serious threat to an important industry for our region, writing to the cabinet secretary, Fergus Ewing, demanding that the Scottish Government take action to regularise the situation and to secure the jobs that exist in Dumfries and Galloway. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts the IOM have chosen to proceed with its reporting proposal from today’s date.

The implications of this decision stretch further than just our local economy. The discriminatory impact on Scottish vessels, relative to the Isle of man based boats, which will have to make additional journeys across the Irish Sea in winter, poses serious health and safety concerns and we must consider the wellbeing of our fishing fleet.

We are angry that there has been no proper consultation process, as required under the Fisheries Management Agreement. We wrote to the Scottish Government the day the regulation was announced by the Manx Government, 22nd December, setting out our grievances and asked that they intervene. Unfortunately the Isle of Man have chosen not to listen to our concerns.

We do not intend to let this matter rest and will be writing to the UK Government as DEFRA has responsibility for the implementation of the Fisheries Management Agreement between the UK and Manx Governments. We absolutely recognise the seriousness of the situation and believe the Scottish Government has done the right thing in invoking the dispute resolution process in the Fisheries Management Agreement. It is essential that we see a fair outcome for the industry in our region.

Thought to reality

Do you want to do new things in your business?  Have you got new ideas to make that happen, but not sure how to turn them into a paid invoice?  

The new Co-Innovate programme, is a five year cross-border initiative funded by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. The programme is designed to help SMEs across the eligible regions to harness their ideas to: 

  • Work smarter 

  • Equip you for future challenges 

  • Add value to your business 

  • Stand out from the competition 

  • Boost your bottom line 

Who can get support from the Co-Innovate Programme?  

SMEs based in Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway or the Western Highlands and Islands in the manufacturing or tradeable services sector may be eligible to take part in the programme. 

What kind of businesses are getting involved?  

Since the programme launched in August 2017, 63 businesses across D&G and Ayrshire have benefited from the programme. So far, businesses have included an IT support company,  a rum distillery and a specialist component manufacturer.  

 

What support is available?

 

Each company’s needs around innovation development will differ, so every company’s journey through the programme will be unique. Co-Innovate will give you the tools and support to help you innovate, differentiate and compete successfully. 

Support provided ranges from free workshops, to innovation audits and one-to- one expert mentoring. 

All companies who qualify will have the chance to learn about the benefits of innovation at one of Co-Innovate’s free tailored workshops. The workshops will demystify innovation and help you understand how it can drive your business forward. There will also be some sector specific workshops for companies in the renewables, agri-food, and life and health sciences sectors. 

See co-innovateprogramme.eu for upcoming dates.  

 

Companies that have received support at Co-Innovate workshops will benefit from one-to-one business assessments, aimed at helping them create a tailored delivery plan. Companies who go on to complete assessments, will be selected to take part in advanced programme supports. These advanced supports are designed to help develop detailed innovation delivery plans: bringing ideas to fruition.  

 

Give me an example!  

iD2 of Dumfries and Galloway attended one of the first Introduction to Innovation sessions in Dumfries. The company are developing apps which have the potential to significantly improve health and safety and regulatory compliance in the merchant navy. To date, the company have completed their business assessments.  The process has really helped the company to reflect on its capabilities and identify where their strengths and weaknesses lie. The company is now looking to secure expert support and potentially funding for a project manager to help develop on their current weaknesses to ensure their innovative ideas turn quickly into a paid invoice.  

Jennefer Tobin, Managing Director, iD2, said:  “The Co-Innovate programme offers us enthusiastic and collaborative support – and it’s definitely stimulated our own thinking on innovation at ID2.”