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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.

 

Time is running out for this years Social Enterprise Awards....

The Social Enterprise Awards Scotland are open for entries. These annual awards, organised by Social Enterprise Scotland, are a unique opportunity for social enterprises across the country to celebrate their achievements.

Social enterprises are independent businesses that exist to deliver a specific social and/or environmental mission.

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Social Enterprise Scotland are encouraging every Scottish social enterprise to enter the 2015 awards - particularly those who haven’t entered before, those who don’t perhaps identify as a social enterprise, are taking tentative steps away from a traditional charity model or aren’t even aware that they are a social enterprise.

Audrey Carlin of Wasps Studios, winners of Social Enterprise of the Year 2014, says, “It was fantastic for Wasps to win Social Enterprise of the Year last time. The recognition the award has given Wasps on a national level has been incredible and has opened new doors for us. We'd urge all eligible organisations to put themselves forward for the awards this year.”

Craig Sanderson of social housing provider Link Group said, “Since Link was formed in 1962 it has, in effect, been a social enterprise - having delivered not only its core activity of providing homes but also supporting people and regenerating and reinvesting in communities. We’ve been honoured many times but are particularly proud of these awards as they recognise our social impact plus our entrepreneurial approach. We very much identify as a social enterprise.”

The closing date for applications and nominations is 10th July and you can find more information on the Social Enterprise Scotland website.

http://www.socialenterprisescotland.org.uk/policy/178

Scottish Chamber of Commerce Respond to Summer Budget

Commenting on the Chancellor’s Summer Budget Statement, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“This has been one of the most densely packed Budgets of recent years, which shifts the goalposts completely in a number of key areas.  For businesses, there are pluses and minuses: good news in terms of future further reductions in Corporation Tax rates and the extension of the annual investment allowance but of course what will be uppermost in many businesses’ minds is the creation of a new mandatory National Living Wage and the implications this has for employers.  This is a Budget where the full implications may take some time to digest.  However the UK Government has missed a clear opportunity to secure future growth opportunities by failing to deliver a clear answer on airport capacity expansion and by failing to act to reduce VAT for our tourism businesses.”

Mrs Cameron went on to comment on specific aspects of the Budget:

On the National Living Wage:

“The creation of a new National Living Wage which will apply to all employees aged 25 and over will come as a bolt from the blue for many employers.  Businesses aspire for the best for their employees and most businesses already pay this rate or more, however for some businesses, and especially smaller businesses in some key sectors such as retail and hospitality, wages of this level do not fit within current commercial models.  Ultimately, consumers will dictate what is affordable and what is not.  That is why transition arrangements are important and, in this case, appear to fall somewhat short.  The rate of £7.20 per hour applicable from 2016 is more than 10% higher than the current National Minimum Wage and, whilst the National Insurance Contributions Employment Allowance rises to £3,000 next year, it will be a further year before any other benefits to businesses arrive in the form of a cut in Corporation Tax.  Businesses need assurance from Government that their genuine concerns over transition to the new scheme will be listened to and acted upon accordingly.”

On Corporation Tax:

“It is welcome news that the downward path in Corporation Tax is to continue over the next five years.  Having an economy with a low corporate tax rate is important not just for existing businesses but as a component in the package we offer to those in other countries looking to invest in Scotland and the UK.  That said, for many businesses, the real problem at the moment is the high levels of other business taxes, such as Business Rates, which show no signs of abating.  It is time that the Scottish Government took advantage of its new powers to help facilitate a change in Business Rates that would benefit Scotland’s businesses.”

On the Annual Investment Allowance:

“It is good news that the Annual Investment Allowance has been increased and extended.  This is vital in order to incentivise business investment and to cement growth in our economy and in productivity.”

On the Apprenticeship Levy:

“This new scheme is being used to fund apprenticeships in England and it will be interesting to monitor this and its effectiveness as Scotland looks to extend its own apprenticeship programme.”

On welfare cuts:

“The Chancellor has now provided some detail around his plans to cut the welfare budget by £12 billion and it is clear that much of this will come from in-work benefits.  We will be monitoring the knock on effects that this policy will have both on employers and in terms of the wider economy, as this could result in falling consumer demand, which until now has been one of the key drivers of economic growth.”

New Aldi Store for Dumfries

Supermarket group ALDI have been given the go-ahead to open a second store in the town.

 

The council approved an application for a new store to be built on the former site of the Dumfries & Galloway Standard on Maxwell Industrial Estate.

 

Up to 35 jobs could be created when the store opens it's doors next year.  The new store is planned to be 25% larger that  the groups current store at 1600sq m with over 100 car parking spaces. 

Tourism Numbers Boost for Region

The latest annual tourism trend report for Dumfries and Galloway shows an encouraging increase in visitor numbers and tourism spend.

The figures show an economic impact of £302.6 million from visitor spend in Dumfries and Galloway, the first time the region has achieved over £300 million.

Visitor numbers for the region rose by 1.8% in 2014 to 2,429,000 while tourists spent 4.2% more over the period. Due to the significant impact from Gretna and Gretna Green, separate figures show an impressive 4% increase in visitors and 8.7% increase in visitor spend.

Employment in the tourism sector of the region has also shown modest increase of 0.5% with an additional 35 direct and indirect jobs created during the year.

The figures are released by Global Tourism Solutions who produce the Scottish Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM) report on behalf of Dumfries and Galloway Council.

Councillor Colin Smyth, chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee said:

“Tourism is a key sector to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway and this report shows encouraging signs that the industry is continuing to grow in the region, despite there still being a challenging economic climate. Our Council is committed to supporting the local economy and by working together, the region’s tourism businesses can capitalise on our fantastic assets and encourage more visitors to experience what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer.”

M&S Energy and energyshare team up on £400,000 prize fund for community energy projects across the UK

M&S Energy and energyshare have partnered to launch an innovative competition to help community energy groups across the UK achieve their sustainable energy ambitions.

Any not for profit organisation which wants to use renewable energy for community benefit, can apply for up to a £400,000 prize fund whether a community energy group, a sports club, a school or simply an organisation which wants to have a positive impact on the environment.

Following the initial application and shortlisting, the winners will be decided by public vote, enabling local communities to vote on the project they believe offers the greatest benefit to them. There are estimated to be over 5,000 community energy groups currently active in the UK, with over 700 launching every year since 2008.

Announced yesterday at the M&S Plan A 2020 Stakeholder event in London, the M&S Energy Community Energy Fund will offer community energy groups a total prize pot of up to £400,000 divided as follows:

1. Two national prizes of £40,000 and £20,000

2. Regional funding awards for projects across Great Britain that require a maximum of £12,500

3. A Judge’s Prize of £15,000 for the most innovative or inspiring project

'This is a pioneering initiative and we look forward to working with energyshare to make a real difference to community energy projects. The M&S Community Energy Fund will enable a wide range of groups to get their projects off the ground and we’re looking forward to hearing about innovative projects that will benefit local communities across the UK.”, said Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of M&S Energy.

"We are delighted to announce this partnership with M&S Energy," said Rob Love, Executive Director of energyshare. "We know this funding could be transformative for many community energy groups across the UK."

"It's fantastic to see such innovation in community energy coming out of Cornwall thanks to energyshare," said Cllr Julian German, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture. "Cornwall's pilot project, energyfund Cornwall was very successful and we welcome this much needed national initiative from M&S Energy. We will be encouraging all our Cornish community energy groups to get involved."

Applications are now open and will close on Wednesday 29th July 2015. The judging panel, made up of renewable energy experts from M&S Energy and SSE, will then agree a shortlist ahead of the final public vote, which opens on Monday 17th August and closes on Wednesday 30th September.

The judges will be considering entries based upon their social and environmental impact and will be scored against a variety of criteria, including:

• A clear business case that gives value for money

• An engaged and supportive community

• A measurable community benefit

In addition to the public vote, there will be one Judges’ Prize for the most innovative or inspiring project, whether in the technology being used or in the group’s approach to the renewable energy challenge.

Full details on how to enter are available at www.mandsenergyfund.com