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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.

 

Switch and Save with UtilityWise

Take the hassle out of switching
Switching energy suppliers can be daunting, but Utilitywise makes it easy. Almost 80% of our new customers switch suppliers when they sign with us.

At Utilitywise we understand the benefits that switching your business energy supplier can bring. Switching your energy supplier can:
• help you discover new deals from energy suppliers you may not be aware of; • give you access to longer or shorter contract terms that could help your business bottom line; • be an opportunity to resolve administrative problems than can occur with your meters or your     contract end dates.

Switching expertise that really helps
We’ve helped hundreds of businesses switch energy suppliers over the past twelve months. We help 80% of our new customers switch to new energy suppliers, while 47% of our existing customers switch to new suppliers when their energy contracts come to an end – we’re energy switching experts.
We’re also energy market experts, and that means we have access to energy suppliers with which you may not be familiar and to contractual terms that you may not be able to access by going direct. For instance, we can offer fixed price five year energy contracts up to twelve months in advance of your current contract end date, a deal you won’t find anywhere else in the market.

Reducing your administrative burden
Switching energy suppliers offers even more benefits to businesses operating across multiple premises. Utilitywise can help you align your contract end dates and suppliers so that in the future all of your energy contracts can be renewed at the same time. This can substantially reduce your administrative burden, saving you time and resource.

Reducing your energy consumption to help with your costs
Switching energy suppliers with Utilitywise means you’ll also have access to a wide range of energy efficiency opportunities and get help to reduce your energy consumption. Utilitywise offers a wide range of energy efficiency solutions for businesses of all sizes, ranging from Utility Insight, our web-based meter data reporting platform, to energy audits and financing for energy efficiency projects.

Safe, secure, and simple – switch with a single phone call
It’s easy to switch energy suppliers with Utilitywise – all it takes is a phone call. To find out how your business can benefit from switching energy suppliers with Utilitywise, call us now on 0845 653 1034 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Visit: www.utilitywise.com

Automatic Enrolment to Workplace Pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has successfully introduced automatic enrolment to workplace pensions for large and medium-sized employers, who account for around 20 million workers, according to today’s report from the National Audit Office. There are, however, significant risks ahead, as 1.8 million smaller employers are required to enrol their workers by 2018.

The Government faces significant challenges in ensuring that people have adequate incomes in retirement. People are living longer and fewer have been saving into workplace pension schemes than in the past. Automatic enrolment aims to reverse the long-term decline in the number of people saving into workplace pensions.

The NAO finds that 58,000 employers have enrolled 5.4 million workers between October 2012 and August 2015. The DWP is now rolling out automatic enrolment to smaller employers which poses new challenges for the programme. Smaller employers are expected to have different requirements and responses to automatic enrolment. Greater operational challenges will also be created as the number of smaller employers increases. While most eligible workers work for larger employers and have already enrolled, the vast majority of employers still have to start automatic enrolment.

Today’s report says that DWP has worked well with The Pensions Regulator and The National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) to design the programme and engage with providers and other stakeholders. Furthermore, opt-out rates have been between 8% and 14%, much lower than expected.

DWP originally expected implementation of the programme to cost £1.1 billion, but it reduced this to £1 billion in its 2015 estimate, largely because of reduced costs of The Pensions Regulator. Programme spending is on track at £554 million to the end of March 2015, which is around half of total budgeted costs. DWP estimates that employers will spend £500 million setting up automatic enrolment and £140 million each year on administering automatic enrolment.

The longer-term success of the programme will depend on its ability to stimulate higher retirement incomes. The Department will also need to monitor the way the programme interacts with wider pension and welfare reforms.

According to the NAO, DWP should assess the impact of wider pensions policies, including pensions flexibilities, on automatic enrolment and monitor emerging trends and concerns, paying particular attention to the responses of employers and scheme trustees.

Retail Sales on the Up

Statistics announced today by Scotland’s Chief Statistician in the latest Retail Sales Index for Scotland release, covering the period July to October 2015, show that the volume of Retail Sales in Scotland increased by 1.0 per cent in the third quarter of 2015 and grew by 4.0 per cent annually.

The value of Retail Sales, without adjusting for inflation, increased by 0.3% in the third quarter of 2015 and grew by 1.2 per cent annually.

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The full statistical publication is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/PubRSI/RSIS2015Q3

The Retail Sales Index (RSI) is a measure of the total turnover at basic prices of businesses registered as retailers according to the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC), an internationally agreed convention for classifying industries.

Annual growth rates have been calculated by comparing the latest quarter with the same quarter of the previous year. The Retail Sales Index presents seasonally adjusted data. These statistics are a component of the Scottish Quarterly GDP Publication, accounting for approximately 5.5% of the Scottish economy.

Further information on Scottish economic statistics can be accessed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Economy/

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff – more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland can be accessed at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/About

OPPORTUNITY TO SUGGEST NEW DEVELOPMENT SITES AND TO COMMENT ON THE LDP

The Council is preparing a new Local Development Plan (LDP2) for adoption in 2019.  As part of this process, we will soon be launching a Call for Sites and Comments stage where we are inviting all members of the public, landowners, developers and any others with any interest in development in the region to send in details of potential development sites that they would like to see included in LDP2.   

This could be land for housing or business development and must be within or next to the settlement boundaries that are shown in the current LDP.  We will also be asking for any comments you might have on the current LDP or any other planning issues that you think should be discussed during the consultation on the next Plan.

Starting on 27 November 2015, you will have 9 weeks in which to submit your sites and comments - more details will be available soon at www.dumgal.gov.uk/LDP and we will send you notification of the Call for Sites and Comments launch.

This is all part of the run-up to the Main Issues Report which is the first formal consultation stage of the next Plan. 

Please see the latest Development Plan Scheme for more details.

 

Small Business Boost

Record numbers of small business properties are benefitting from the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS), according to new figures.

The statistics indicate that business rates for 99,559 properties have been reduced or completely removed by SBBS this year, representing an increase of over 3,000 since last year.

The figures also show the amount of money saved by small business properties through the scheme has more than doubled over the last eight years, increasing from 68m in 2008/09 to £174m in 2015/16.

Minister for Business, Energy & Tourism Fergus Ewing said;

“Scotland’s small businesses are fundamental drivers in securing sustainable economic growth, which is why we are doing everything we can to support them by continuing to deliver the most competitive business tax environment in the UK.

“Since we introduced the Small Business Bonus Scheme in 2008, the amount of money being saved by businesses across Scotland has more than doubled. Because of this competitive advantage, businesses in Scotland can save up to £3,200 more under the Scheme this year than equivalent businesses in England under arrangements there.

“As a government we are committed to continuing to support our small and medium sized businesses that are so integral to the success of the economy. That is why the First Minister has pledged to retain the Small Business Bonus Scheme for the duration of the next parliament if re-elected, and why we recently legislated to enable local authorities to further reduce business rate bills, on top of schemes such as this, to ensure that we maintain Scotland’s reputation as the best place to do business in the UK.”

“These actions will ensure that we maintain Scotland’s reputation as the best place to do business in the UK.”