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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.

 

New homes on the rise

Affordable housing on track to exceed target. 

The number of new homes built in Scotland has risen by nine per cent in the last year.

Latest housing statistics show the number of new homes completed across the private and social sector rose nine per cent to 16,281 between April 2014 and March 2015, compared to the same period in 2013-14.

In addition, the overall supply of housing, which covers new builds, refurbishments and conversions, increased six per cent  to 17,149 in 2014-15 compared to the previous year.

The Scottish Government is also well on track to exceed its five-year target to deliver 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016,  as part of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme.

Figures to the end of June 2015, show that a  total of 28,048 affordable homes have now been delivered –93 per cent of the 30,000 target - including  19,205 homes for social rent. This is 96 per cent of the 20,000 social rent target, and within that 4,956 council homes – 99 per cent of the council homes target.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “Making sure everyone in Scotland has access to good-quality, affordable housing is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s ambitions to create a fairer and more prosperous country. These figures support this commitment and show we are on track to exceed our five year target of delivering 30,000 new homes by 2016.

“This is a significant achievement. In spite of around a quarter in real terms cuts to our capital budget and an uphill battle to beat the recession, this Government has built more social and affordable houses in the last seven years than were delivered in the seven years prior to that.

“By targeting resources at making private sector homes more affordable, through schemes like Help to Buy (Scotland), we have seen the number of private sector completions rise significantly.

“We have boosted housing supply budgets by investing £1.7 billion in affordable housing over the lifetime of this Parliament. Our house building rates, per head, continue to outperform other parts of the UK.

“We will continue to work closely with the housing sector to support the construction of new homes across all tenures, supporting jobs in the construction industry and wider economy, and helping to strengthen communities, promote social justice and tackle inequality.”

Councillors consider next steps for Whitesands project

Councillors to consider next steps for Whitesands project Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy , Environment and Infrastructure Committee (Tuesday 15 September) will consider a report on the next steps for the Whitesands Project.

The report follows the most recent round of public consultation earlier this year. Council officers have now used the feedback from the consultation to refine the project further and councillors are being asked to agree to a further round of public engagement on the refined options. These options are set out in detail in the report that will go before councillors. The chairman of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Colin Smyth, said, “This is a really important project so it is vital that the best option possible is agreed when a decision is made by councillors in the months ahead.

The project is continually evolving and a lot of work has been done by council officers and the experts employed from a range of companies to ensure the feedback from public engagement continues to be fed into refining the designs and options. I think there is now a public understanding that all the studies have shown that, unfortunately, options such as dredging and storing floodwater upstream will not tackle the larger floods on the Whitesands and there is a need for physical flood prevention measures on both sides of the river through the town. The feedback also showed a recognition that the project is about more than just flood prevention but also the wider regeneration of the Whitesands, in particular the need to make the fantastic asset that is our riverside an area that is attractive to visit both for local people and tourists. The latest refined options offer some positive solutions to tackle concerns over the potential visual impact of the project and, in some cases, actually improve the current river views which are blocked by walls, which will be removed. The options also ensure that the clear direction from councillors that there should not be less car parking will form part of any scheme. I appreciate that some people will simply be against whatever is proposed but the reality is Dumfries is the largest town in Scotland where we do not yet have a proper flood prevention scheme. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to get rid of that record but more importantly to regenerate our riverside. Councillors will be asked to agree to a further opportunity for public consultation on the latest options before any decisions are made to ensure that it is the views of the public that drive the project until we get the best possible solution.”

For full report see agenda item 10: http://egenda.dumgal.gov.uk/aksdumgal/users/public/admin/kab14.pl?operation=SUBMIT&meet=12&cmte=EEI&grpid=public&arc=71 

2.4% of workforce on zero hours

There were 744,000 people on a zero-hours contract in their main job, as reported to the Labour Force Survey for April-June 2015. This is 2.4% of all people in employment.

The latest estimate for employees on a zero-hours contract is an increase from the 624,000 people who reported this at the same time last year, or 2.0% of those in work. Two-thirds of the increase is from people in their job for more than a year and so the overall increase does not necessarily relate to new zero hours contracts. It could have been due either to increased recognition or to people moving on to a zero-hours contract with the same employer.

 

Women made up 54% of those on zerohours contracts, compared with 47% of other workers. Zero-hours contracts were common among students, with 20% of people on them being in full-time education, compared with just 3% of other workers.

ONS has also published updated results from its survey of employee contracts used by businesses, the first time that these have been available for a fully comparable time period. The latest figures show that there were around 1.5 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours where some work was carried out in a particular fortnight in January 2015. This compares with 1.4 million such contracts where some work was done in the equivalent fortnight in January 2014.

This increase, however, is not statistically significant.

Commenting on these figures, senior ONS statistician Nick Palmer said:

“Both measures suggest there may have been a small trend towards more use of zero-hours contracts, although the usual margins of error associated with the surveys’ estimates mean that we cannot be certain of this. Moreover, as previously, the results from the Labour Force Survey might have been influenced by increased recognition of the term ‘zero hours contract’ among respondents.”

Trusted Trader Advice

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Top Tips

Trusted trader  

 For Trusted Trader Customers it is advisable to:

1. Get more than one quote, so you have a better idea of the going rate for the job you want done.                          

2. Upon contacting the Trusted Trader check if there are any extra fees to pay such as a call out for inspection charge. These should be made clear in advance.               

3. Put in writing what you want the Trusted Trader to carry out, so they have a clear understanding of exactly what is required.

4. The Trusted Trader should give you a feedback card once the work is finished, if you don't receive one don't be afraid to ask for one.

5. Please fill the feedback card in and send it back, this helps us maintain the quality of Trusted Traders and helps other customers get the right trader for their job. Alternatively you can give feedback online


Do you want to be a Trusted Trader?

Trusted Trader is a scheme set up by Dumfries and Galloway Council to promote local honest, reliable businesses that customers can easily find. You can apply to join if you have at least 50% customer base in Dumfries and Galloway, have been trading for at least 6 months and have public liability insurance.

The benefits you receive:

  • There are no fees involved;
  • Trusted Trader stickers for your vehicles or buildings;
  • You can use the logo on your advertisements;
  • Customer feedback cards; and
  • Free advertisement - each month on the Trusted Trader website we have 2000 visitors.

Due to consumer demand we are currently looking for businesses in the following trades to join; gardeners / landscapers, handyworkers and domestic cleaners.

  Become a trusted trader

 

Life in Scotland 2014

The majority of people in Scotland rate their neighbourhood as a good place to live, have access to the internet and engaged in some type of cultural activity in 2014. Around half are positive about their finances, a quarter have volunteered in the last 12 months and one in five adults smoke cigarettes.

These are just some of the findings from the wide-ranging 2014 Scottish Household Survey which is designed to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the composition, characteristics, attitudes and behaviour of Scottish households and individuals.

Scotland’s Chief Statistician today published the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) 2014 Annual Report (Scotland’s People). This is a web-only publication and can be found on the Scottish Government Website, at www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/08/3720

Some key findings from each chapter of the report are:

Composition

Around half (47 per cent) of all adults are married and living with a spouse, while around a third (35 per cent) have never been married or in a civil partnership

Around two thirds (64 per cent) of households in Scotland are either a house or bungalow

Housing

The total number of households in Scotland has increased by 11 per cent from 2.19 million in 1999 to 2.42 million in 2014

The private rented sector has shown consistent signs of growth from 5 per cent of all households in 1999 to 14 per cent in 2014

The social rented sector has declined from 32 per cent of all households in 1999 to 23 per cent in 2007, remaining around this level since, with 24 per cent in 2014.

Owner occupation has dipped from a high of 66 per cent of all households in 2009 to 60 per cent in 2014

Neighbourhoods

More than half (55.8 per cent) of adults rated their neighbourhood as a very good place to live in 2014. This continues the trend of consistently high ratings since the survey began in 1999 with over 90 per cent of adults rating their neighbourhood as a very or fairly good place to live

Overall prevalence of different types of anti-social behaviours are relatively low with the most commonly perceived problem continuing to be animal nuisance (noise or fouling) - 31 per cent of adults said it is very or fairly common.

Economic Activity

A higher proportion of men (58 per cent) than women (50 per cent) were currently in work. Women were more likely to be in part-time employment than men (17 compared with 4 per cent). In contrast, self-employment was more common among men than women (8 and 3 per cent, respectively).
Just under one in five (18 per cent) adults had no qualifications, with those aged 75 and over least likely to have qualifications (49 per cent)

Finance

Between 2013 and 2014 there has been an increase in the proportion of households reporting that they felt positive about their household finances increasing from 48 per cent in 2013 to over half (52 per cent) in 2014

One quarter of households (25 per cent) reported not having any savings or investments in 2014 though around half (53 per cent) of households reported having savings of £1,000 or more

Transport

Seven in ten (70 per cent) households have a car available for private use, with those living in rural areas more likely to own at least one car (87 per cent in remote rural areas compared to 59 per cent in large urban areas)

Overall around two-thirds (68 per cent) of adults aged 17 and over have a driving licence. In all age groups, more men had driving licences than women with the gap widening as age increases. The gap between males and females has fallen since 1999 from 26 percentage points in 1999 to around 14 percentage points in 2012

Internet

Eighty per cent of Scottish households reported having internet access at home in 2014. This continued the trend of increasing home internet access over the past decade (up from 42 per cent in 2003)

The diversification of the way people access the internet is one of the largest changes from 2013. More people are using internet on the move across age groups and income bands. Fewer people are using laptops and computers to connect while other means of access such as tablets have increased, particularly amongst the relatively young and the very old

Health

Twenty per cent of adults were current cigarette smokers in 2014, a reduction from 23 per cent of adults in each of the three previous years and from 31 per cent in 1999

Four in ten (39 per cent) households in Scotland contain at least one person with a long-term condition

Three quarters of adults (74 per cent) reported that their own health is either 'very good' or 'good', compared to 7 per cent saying their health is either 'bad' or 'very bad'

Local services

In 2014, 62 per cent of adults were satisfied with three public services: local health services, schools and public transport

In 2014, 23 per cent of adults agreed that they can influence decisions affecting their local area, the highest level since the question was introduced in 2007. Around one-third (34 per cent) said they would like to be more involved in the decisions their council makes

Environment

Around half of adults visited the outdoors at least once a week in the last year (48 per cent). Only 32 per cent of adults that were aged 75 or older visited the outdoors once a week

Less than half of adults (45 per cent) viewed climate change as an immediate and urgent problem. Eight per cent felt it was not really a problem and 11 per cent were not convinced that climate change is happening

Volunteering

Levels of volunteering have remained relatively stable over the last 5 years, with around three in ten adults providing unpaid help to organisations or groups. In 2014, 27 per cent of adults provided unpaid help to organisations or groups in the last 12 months

The type of organisations most commonly volunteered for are youth / children organisations (22 per cent), followed by those working with health, disability and social welfare organisations (21 per cent)

Culture and Sport

Around nine-in-ten (91 per cent) adults engaged in culture in 2013 and 2014, either by attending or visiting a cultural event or place or participating in a cultural activity

Over three-quarters of adults (78 per cent) participated in sport and exercise (including recreational walking) in the last four weeks. This was the same as in 2013

Four in ten adults (40 per cent) in 2014 believed that hosting the Commonwealth Games in Scotland would provide lasting benefits (either to them and their family or their local area)

Young People

Around nine-in-ten households (91 per cent) with young children have access to some form of play areas within their neighbourhood

Generally, households with young children within rural areas are more likely to say children would be very safe or fairly safe when walking or cycling to play areas on their own

Around three-quarters (76 per cent) of young people aged 8 to 21 take part in some form of activity regularly, with the majority of young people (55 per cent) taking part in a sports or sporting activity

The figures released today were produced by independent statistical staff free from any political interference, in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.