News

The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

DGChamber President responds to the Chancellor’s Spending Review

 

Kenny Bowie

Responding to the publication of the 2020 UK Government Spending Review, Kenny Bowie, President of DGChamber said:

“Despite unprecedented falls in GDP and rises in debt and deficit, it is welcome that the Treasury remains committed to supporting the economy in the face of ongoing challenges of Covid-19. However, the forecast for job losses despite £280 billion worth of support thus far should focus all minds on the toll this virus has taken on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“The launch of a national infrastructure strategy is an important step in overcoming the longstanding infrastructure deficit. The transition to net zero and levelling up across the UK will require ambitious and sustained action to transform our transport, energy and digital networks. Investment in R&D and through the new National Infrastructure Bank are welcome, we look forward to further detail on these and how they will be accessed in Scotland. 

“Barnett consequentials mean the Scottish Government has some leeway in setting its priorities for the Scottish Budget in January and we believe increased financial support direct to business, upskilling and cutting the costs of business overheads should be top of its agenda.” 

Commenting on the launch of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund: 

“The launch of UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace European Union structural funding is long-overdue and significant unanswered questions remain. Business communities will now require more detail on how the scheme will operate and how the new fund will avoid damaging cliff edges in existing local economic development and business support schemes. 

“The government must work closely with business on the determining key features of the new fund, including a commitment to maximise local autonomy, business voice and economic growth. The Scottish Chamber network stands ready to support the pilot schemes and help develop proposals further once published.”  

Commenting on those who have fallen through gaps in government support: 

“Despite the Chancellor’s announcement, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been unable to access any government support since the start of the pandemic and will require support if we are to avoid significant increases in unemployment and business failures.” 

PLANS TO MOVE SHERIFF COURT JURY TRIALS - ‘VERY CONCERNING’ IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE – COLIN SMYTH

Plans by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to move sheriff and jury trials from Dumfries and Stranraer Sheriff Courts to Ayr Sheriff court must be reassessed as a matter of priority, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

 

ColinSmythMSP

The reason behind the move has been stated as the £40,000 cost to create covid-safe environments in the two sheriff courts for juries, however, Colin Smyth agrees with local solicitors, who have raised concerns about the numbers of people required to travel to Ayr, which is currently under level 4 restrictions, for days at a time, to take part in trials.

Colin Smyth said: “Plans by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to move sheriff and jury trials from Dumfries and Stranraer Sheriff Courts to Ayr Sheriff Court are very concerning and they must be reassessed as a matter of urgency.

“I have written to the service and the Justice Secretary to ask for more details but the idea of dozens of people – witnesses, the jury themselves, police and legal teams – being forced to travel up and down to Ayr, for a number of consecutive days, is unthinkable in the current climate.

“Many people would need to use public transport and the costs involved in transporting everyone needed to appear in court would be huge.

“We have been repeatedly told by the Scottish Government that travelling between different level areas should be discouraged and even though this would be an essential reason for travel, it sounds very irresponsible to make these changes and risk exposing dozens of people to Covid-19, rather than spending a sum of money to make the sheriff courts in Dumfries and Stranraer safe.”

 

Delivery Rip-Off Costing D&G Shoppers

Online shoppers in Galloway and West Dumfries are being ripped off by delivery companies charging extra to deliver to the region.


A report by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) found Scots were being left out of pocket to the tune of millions of pounds, with people in Galloway and West Dumfries being charged an extra £815,000 in total on top of what they had already bought.


Across Scotland, more than £43.1million extra is spent by online shoppers on delivery charges - an increase of £6.7m in the past three years.


The charges have created a postcode lottery for many, with rural communities often charged more than other areas.

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Commenting, Emma Harper SNP MSP, said:


“It is very disappointing that people in Galloway and West Dumfries are having to fork out more than others in Scotland just because of where they live.


“Despite efforts from MSPs, the charges continue to sky-rocket.


“During the Covid-19 pandemic many of us have relied on online shopping in one way or another and we should not have to be punished purely on postcode alone - it will really hit hard-working families this Christmas.


"Now, more than ever, delivery charges across the UK should be fair and transparent, and people should have the information they need to make informed choices.

Scottish National Investment Bank Open For Businesss

South Scotland MSP, Emma Harper , has said the new Scottish National Investment Bank will help encourage economic growth across Dumfries & Galloway after the bank officially opened for business this week.

The SNP Government has committed at least £2 billion of investment to support the UK’s first mission-led development bank over the next ten years.

The bank will now begin investing in local businesses and communities and will play an important role in helping Scotland meet its ambitious climate change targets - forming part of the SNP’s Green New Deal and helping create high quality jobs in the process. 

 

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Commenting, SNP MSP Emma Harper, said:

“The Scottish National Investment Bank will help us tackle some of the biggest challenges we now face, as we transform, grow and decarbonise Scotland’s economy.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy, that’s why the bank will invest in firms and community projects that are looking to play their part in tackling the global climate emergency.

“Individuals, and small local businesses, across the country will benefit from this historic move and help us reach our world-leading climate change targets. I look forward to seeing the bank’s impact in Dumfries & Galloway.”

Stopping Business Rates Could Be a Town Centre Lifeline

SCRAPPING business rates could bring new life to struggling town centres in Dumfriesshire.

The proposal was revealed at the weekend by Scottish Conservatives' party leader Douglas Ross, who pointed out that footfall nationally had fallen by nearly 40 per cent this year.

Other proposed measures put forward included incentives to encourage redevelopment of long-term unoccupied premises for residential use.

 

Oliver Mundell MSP

Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell said: "Giving councils the option of exempting High Street enterprises from business rates could make a huge difference and fuel much-needed regeneration.

"The high overheads are a significant concern amongst many retailers and other business people I speak to in local communities.

"Incentivising the conversion of long-term empty premises into housing could also be a positive solution for towns such as Dumfries and others across the constituency where there are long unoccupied buildings."