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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 Funding Announced for 2016

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has recognised the success and positive impact which the CX Project Grant has made to those businesses that have accessed funding to date. Taking on board the suggestions made by local businesses, some improvements have been made to offer greater flexibility and provide more opportunities for businesses with the potential to grow. These changes include raising the maximum limit to £25,000 (up to 50% of project costs). Grants are available to Annandale and Eskdale businesses that are able to demonstrate their development plans would increase business turnover and create new jobs.
Since its launch in 2011, the CX Project has helped to boost local business turnover by almost £2 million, creating 41.5 new full time equivalent (FTE) jobs. This is one new FTE job for every £2,725 of grant funding invested. John Grierson, Site Director for Magnox at Chapelcross said, “Grants will be available to businesses that have a proven track record of operating a successful business. The main objectives are
• to support business growth • to unlock the potential to find new markets • to develop new products or procedures • innovation • developing and retaining a skilled workforce
“Flexibility in relation to the objectives is the main element of the improved scheme and this reflects the feedback from businesses in the area with real growth potential. This flexibility includes increasing the grant ceiling to £25,000 where the project looks exciting enough. It is a competitive, discretionary grant with the decision made by the CX Project Grants Panel. We have made sure that the process is streamlined and businesses will receive support in developing their application, providing it meets the new, wider criteria.”
Colin Smyth, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, said, “I would encourage any business in the DG10 to DG16 area to share their growth or innovation ideas with us to see if it fulfils the criteria for a grant. The increased flexibility makes the funding attractive to those with larger projects in mind and a CX Project grant may be the final spark that sets the project alight.”
Tony Buckley of Mapleco Motorsport Ltd received a grant from the CX Project in 2014 to develop his specialist wiring loom business. He said, “Without the CX Project, I would have been doing this as odd jobs from home. With their help I put together a good business plan and now work from an industrial unit. In less than 6 months, the CX Project helped me turn what was an idea into a real business.”
James Ewart Racing from Langholm also received a CX Project grant. James and Briony Ewart converted part of the family cattle and sheep farm into a racehorse training business in 2004 and the expansion of the business since that time has been impressive.
Briony said, “When we needed a horse box and mobile stables, the CX Project’s help was really important. The grant provided enabled us to house 4 additional horses which required 2 extra members of staff. We are keenly aware of the value of our business to the local economy and it is very satisfying to be able to take on more staff. ”

The CX Project was set up in September 2011 after funding was secured from Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Socio-Economic Fund and Dumfries and Galloway Council to provide area specific and intensified business support in Annandale and Eskdale. Our purpose is to help boost the local economy which will be affected by the de-commissioning of Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station. We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in advising and supporting small businesses to start up and grow.
The CX Project team has an excellent network of key contacts and can also help signpost you to others who may be able to provide specialist help and support. Local businesses can register to recent updates of business opportunities in Annandale and Eskdale.
For more information, contact the project on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone 01387 273996
Website www.cxproject.co.uk
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cxproject

Cost for Carrier Bags Drives Down Useage

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has today welcomed the news that carrier bag usage was reduced by 147 million last year, despite the charge on single use carrier bags only being in place for the last 11 weeks of the year.

The figures, published by WRAP today (Friday), cover the 2014 calendar year for the UK from seven major grocery retailers. In Scotland, bag usage dropped from 193.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 64.6 million during the same period in 2014, suggesting that Scotland is well on track to achieve a reduction of more than 80 per cent in the use of single-use carrier bags.

Mr Lochhead said:

“These astounding figures – a reduction of 147 million – are yet another indication that the single use carrier bag charge has been a tremendous success, driving behaviour change to reduce litter across our beautiful country and also the amount of resources we, as a nation, consume.

“Litter is a blight on our environment and I’m delighted with the reports we’ve received from these retailers. I’m pleased that so many consumers are now in the habit of reusing bags and the level of support from the Scottish public is extremely heartening.

“Previously statistics showed that people in Scotland used more than 800 million new single-use carrier bags every year – more per head of population than anywhere else in the UK. Scotland is serious about tackling litter, reducing waste and creating a cleaner, greener environment for everyone to enjoy.

“I hope the public will continue to embrace re-using their bags and that even more retailers will sign up to donate money to good causes, when it has been necessary for people to take a bag. These figures also demonstrate how small changes can make a big difference and as Scotland moves towards a more circular economy, I hope that it inspires people to think about what other actions they can take to reduce the amount of resources that they throw away.”

These figures are consistent with feedback received from retailers that they have noted a reduction in use of more than 80 per cent since the charge was introduced on 20 October 2014. Wales and Northern Ireland both introduced similar charges and experienced reductions of more than 80 per cent in the first full year of their charge.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“In the months since the Carrier Bag Charge was introduced, we’ve seen a tremendous change in Scots shoppers’ habits, with many more people now bringing re-useable bags. I congratulate people for the drop in single-use bags in circulation, as these single-use items usually quickly end up either as litter or landfill. Retailers have also embraced the charge and I would encourage those who’ve not yet done so to sign up to our Carrier Bag commitment, to enable clear reporting and donation to good causes.”

More than 60 retailers have also signed up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment, a voluntary agreement operated by Zero Waste Scotland, to donate the net proceeds of the charge to good causes. This includes representatives from a range of retail sectors and has already raised more than £2 million for good causes throughout Scotland.

Bankruptcies at Lowest Level in Over Eleven Years

Bankruptcies decreased sharply this quarter with 757 awarded which is a 56.5 per cent decrease on the previous quarter, this figure also represents a decrease of 56.9 per cent on the same quarter of the previous year.

Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) today released official statistics reporting personal and company insolvencies in Scotland for the first quarter of 2015-16.

The number of bankruptcies awarded, PTDs registered and DAS approved totalled 2,136 in the first quarter of 2015-16. The number of people accessing statutory debt solutions in Scotland declined by a third in the last quarter and almost halved in the last year.

The first quarter of 2015-16 figures show that personal insolvencies, which include both bankruptcies and protected trust deeds (PTDs), fell 45.8 per cent from the same period of the previous year. A total of 1,606 were recorded during this period, which is the lowest number recorded in over 14 years.

The total number of bankruptcies awarded decreased a 56.5 per cent on the previous quarter to 757. This represents a decrease of 56.9 per cent on the same quarter of the previous year. On the other hand, the number of PTDs increased slightly this quarter, with a total of 849 recorded. This represents an increase of 1.8 per cent on the previous quarter, however the number of trust deeds protected fell 30.0 per cent from the same quarter in 2014-15.

The number of people entering the statutory debt management solution, the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS), decreased to the lowest quarterly total in over four years. A total of 530 Debt Payment Programmes were approved this quarter, a decrease of 16.3 per cent on the previous quarter. A total of £9.5 million was repaid through DAS this quarter.

The number of Scottish registered companies becoming insolvent or entering receivership remained steady in the first quarter of 2015-16, with 197 companies becoming insolvent or entering receivership. However this is number represents a decrease of almost a quarter (24.6 per cent) on the same quarter in 2014-15.

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.

Scotland a Leader in Women’s Employment

Scotland is one of the leading countries in Europe for reducing female unemployment – second only to Germany.

Latest figures released by Eurostat, covering the period January to March 2015, also show that Scotland has the second highest rate of female employment across Europe.

Scotland’s female employment rate for the period stood at 71.1 per cent, only beaten by Sweden (72.4 per cent). The UK rate is four places behind at 67.4 per cent.

The figures for January to March 2015 show:

  • Scotland had      the second lowest female unemployment rate (5.2 per cent) amongst the EU      28 countries. Germany had the lowest female unemployment rate at 4.5 per      cent;
  • Scotland had      the second highest female employment rate (71.1 per cent) amongst the EU      28 countries. Sweden had the highest female employment rate at 72.4 per      cent;
  • Scotland had      the third lowest female inactivity rate (25.0 per cent) amongst the EU 28      countries. Scotland trailed Denmark (24.6 per cent) and Sweden (21.1 per      cent).

Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment Annabelle Ewing said:

“Our improvements across women’s employment, unemployment, activity rates and closing the gender gap have been steady and consistent. Scotland continues to be a better place to be a working woman than elsewhere in the UK and these latest figures confirm that we are performing better than the majority of the 28 EU countries.

“We have all seen the challenges that have had to be overcome through the recession and we have made creating a fairer, more equal workforce a key to our economic recovery. Our commitment to leading the way on 50:50 gender representation on boards; to giving young people real hope and prospects for employment and a career and championing a true living wage that are bound together under our goal of fair work for all employees.

“We have made real progress on breaking down the traditional barriers that we inherited, but calling out and condemning inequality in the workplace in all its forms needs to continue until the playing field is truly equal and your gender or background is irrelevant because you are judged on your abilities and potential.

“Once again, these Eurostat figures are worth celebrating. Attitudes and business practices are changing for the better and Scotland continues to be among the best countries in Europe to be a woman in work.”

There's so much happening in the world of DGBusiness

In the August edition of DG Business:

meet 'farmer's friend' Inspiring Entrepreneur Josie Mallinson, who runs JKM Business Services Ltd

read about award-winning Castle Dining's success in the Young Enterprise Scotland Awards;

learn why Minerva People Ltd is a company with national influence

meet the team behind the world's first 'liquid deli'

which has its headquarters at Glenair

discover the "shocking differences" in the cost of basic household items across the region, as revealed by Dumfries & Galloway Citizens' Advice Service's new report,

and learn how a homebrew hobby has turned into a business in Portpatrick.


There's also news from Business Week 2015; Dumfries & Galloway's finalists in the national Farmers Weekly awards, and our interview with Business Gateway adviser Carol-Ann Brown...