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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.

 

SCC welcomes extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“This is great news. Businesses and employees across Scotland will be extremely relieved by the Chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme to October rather than face a cliff edge with its originally planned withdrawal at the end of June.

“This direct employee financial support has been a lifeline which has enabled many jobs to be retained rather than businesses having to face making massive redundancies. As we begin to consider a ‘return to workplace’ plan to restart the economy, flexibility in these schemes will be paramount to protecting jobs until businesses are able to trade normally once more.

“We look forward to seeing further detail on the proposed employers’ contribution. We would ask that this takes into consideration, particularly for SMEs, their ability to pay contributions depending on how quickly their income recovers as lock down eases. Trading conditions will differ depending on location and sector and the flexibility of the furlough scheme must take these factors on board.

“We will continue our engagement with the Treasury to make sure business support remains flexible and accessible for Scottish businesses.” 

 

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SMYTH CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR COACH COMPANIES AS COVID-19 LOCKDOWN CONTINUES

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to extend Covid-19 support to coach companies.

 

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During a virtual question time in the Scottish Parliament, Colin Smyth questioned Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Fergus Ewing about whether coach companies would be receiving additional support during the pandemic.

Speaking virtually, Colin Smyth said: “As the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism will be aware, although there has been sector-specific financial support for bus companies that provide timetabled services—through, for example, the continuance of concessionary travel reimbursement—there has been no sector-specific support for companies that provide only coach hire services, which would normally be gearing up for the busy tourism period. 

“Tourism is likely to be one of the last sectors to leave lockdown and recover. Is the Government considering specific sectoral support for the many hundreds of coach firms that are struggling at this time?”

Speaking after the session, the local MSP added: “Since the start of lockdown I have been contacted by a number of small coach companies in the south of Scotland who are really struggling.

“While we contemplate lockdown measure easing, we know that tourism is going to be one of the last sectors to recover. This should have been one of the busiest times of year for many coach firms but they are now facing an uncertain future which is causing real concern in my constituency.

“The cabinet secretary said there was “an extremely strong case” for coach companies suffering from the lockdown restrictions to be able to claim support and I will continue to push for this going forward. Tourism is hugely important to the economy of the south of Scotland and coach companies cannot be forgotten

SCC call on HM Treasury to reaffirm support for Scottish businesses and extend the furlough scheme

Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has called upon the UK Chancellor to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and reaffirm support for Scotland’s industries and sectors

 

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“As each of the four nations of the UK attempt to resume business operations and economic recovery, the Treasury must reaffirm its commitment to supporting Scotland's industries and sectors by extending grant support schemes and industry stimulus packages. 

“In particular, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme must be extended beyond its current cliff edge. The furlough scheme has helped save millions of jobs in recent weeks and a longer programme of support will be necessary in light of continued restrictions put in place to ensure the spread of the virus is kept to a minimum. Extending the scheme will ensure that there are jobs to go back to as restrictions carefully ease in the coming weeks and months.“

SNP politicians' 'fanciful' border check claims challenged

LOCAL MP Alister Jack has launched a broadside against SNP politicians accusing them of steering the focus on the Covid-19 response towards their independence agenda.

 

He highlighted a tweet from South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper in which she claimed the UK Government was 'giving a green light to folk to leave their own home, no longer protect the NHS & 'Take Back Control' -very irresponsible and dangerous messaging.'

 

She went on to ask: 'Are @NithsdalePolice @DumfriesGPolice @GallowayPolice @DGNHS ready for the 2ndwave of COVID-19 coming? #bordercheck '

 

Alister Jack MP - Serious Look

Mr Jack dismissed the inference that police checks could be required on the border to stop visitors travelling north and risking the spread of coronavirus.

 

The Dumfries and Galloway representative at Westminster stated Ms Harper's tweet was another fanciful example of nationalist campaigners hijacking serious public concerns like coronavirus to further their quest for constitutional change.

 

Mr Jack, who is also Scottish Secretary, continued: "Different parts of the UK are using devolved powers, as is their right, to vary their response to coronavirus.

 

"Scotland's 'R' number, the rate of transmission, is higher, and the Scottish Government have opted not to slightly loosen, as in England, the 'Stay at Home' message for those who cannot work from home.

 

"My own preference, where appropriate, is for an all-UK strategy to avoid any confusion, particularly in areas like ours close to the border. It is important we all work together to control this dreadful virus."

 

Mr Jack also firmly rejected reported suggestions from SNP MP Angus MacNeil that police might be needed at the border to prevent people entering Scotland should the lockdown be lifted more quickly in England.

SCC responds to UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy and workplace guidance for firms in England

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has welcomed the publication on guidance for employers in England on how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic. SCC calls on the Scottish Government to align its advice for businesses ahead of publication of guidance for some Scottish firms expected later this week.

 

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Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“These guidelines are targeted only at businesses operating in England but we hope they will be useful to guide Scottish businesses and their employees as to what they need to put in place to make certain we are all following the same rules, ensuring the safety of all of us.

“It would have been preferable for all the nations within the UK to be adopting a co-ordinated approach to returning to work, but it has become evident that this is not now going to be the case.

“While the Scottish Government prepares guidelines, initially focussing on the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors this week, the lessons learned over the last 24 hours show that business and our employees need clarity and detail. We need guidelines to clearly state what business have to put in place and within what timeframe.

“We went into lockdown at speed, however it will take major change and planning to come out of it. We need guidance ahead of lock down easing so that we can ensure the safety of our employees and the sustainability of jobs and livelihoods.”