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

 

Region set to benefit from UK tariffs system

ARMERS, the environment and consumers in Dumfries and Galloway look set to benefit from the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) schedule, which was published this week.

 

Local MP and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack made the upbeat prediction as he welcomed the UK trade policy package, due to come into force on January 1, 2021.

 

 

Alister Jack Serious

The bespoke tariff regime is designed specifically for the UK and replaces the EU Common External Tariff which is currently applied to imports.

 

Mr Jack explained that the cost of thousands of household products could be cut as the changes reduce red tape.

 

Tariff levels were tailored, he pointed out, to benefit the UK economy and industries, particularly important during the coronavirus crisis recovery period.

 

Mr Jack explained that rural Dumfries and Galloway would benefit from ensuring import tariffs are maintained on lamb, beef, salmon and poultry coming into the country.

 

To promote a sustainable economy, the UK Global Tariff regime also includes cutting tariffs on more than 100 products to back renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon capture and recycling.

 

Mr Jack said: “Leaving the EU means the UK can set its own import tariffs tailored to benefit its own economy. 

 

“The UK government has ensured Scotland’s farmers will be protected by maintaining tariffs on products including beef, lamb and poultry. 

 

“We are determined to support our rural economy, as the world emerges from the coronavirus crisis, and the UK can look forward to a bright future of new opportunities outside the EU. 

 

“In the past few days we have also launched our Pick for Britain Scheme which will allow people who are furloughed from their jobs to earn money getting in this year’s harvest, while continuing to be paid 80 per cent of their usual salary by the UK Government.

 

“In addition, we have progressed our Agriculture Bill which will help pave the way for free trade deals around the globe, bringing new export opportunities to Scottish farmers.

 

“Scottish farming is crucial to the country’s recovery, and the UK Government will do everything it can to support it.”

MSP welcomes cautious easing of restrictions

Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell has commented on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's announcement today of a four-phase routemap in lifting the current Covid-19 lockdown in Scotland.

 

 

Referring to phase one, which begins on May 28, Mr Mundell said:  "I think many constituents will be relieved to see the gentle easing of restrictions coming in from next week.

 

"There will be more detail to come and some people may have questions. but there is no doubt for many people the idea that they can see family and friends, all be it in limited circumstances, will be very welcome.

 

"Obviously people need to continue to be cautious and continue to stay at home where possible but it is clear that the time is coming where we need to look beyond this first phase and take the opportunities that are there to return to some sense of normality."

Bowie welcomes additional £40 million increase for Business Support Fund

The Scottish Government’s Business Support Fund has been increased by £40 million to provide additional support for key sectors of the Scottish economy.

This extra funding will be split between the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, which has increased by £30 million to £120 million, and the Creative, Tourism & Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund, which has increased by £10 million to £30 million. Both funds closed to applications on 18 May.

 

Fiona Hyslop DGArts Festival

Cabinet Secretary for Economy Fiona Hyslop said:

“We are listening to what businesses need and following the First Minister’s announcement earlier this month that the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund would double to £90 million to meet demand, we will now add a further £30 million to help as many SMEs as possible survive these incredibly difficult times.

“Our creative, tourism and hospitality sector is one where we know there are particular pressures, so we have also increased this fund by £10 million.

“These funds are supporting businesses the length and breadth of Scotland and continue our commitment to ensure every penny of the additional business money that has come to Scotland is passed on to support our economy.

“Crucially, we are also focusing our efforts to help those who are not captured by the UK Government schemes.

 

Kenny Bowie

DGChamber President Kenny Bowie said:

“Businesses in Dumfries & Galloway have been severely impacted by the lockdown, in a rural area like ours with the risk of a real collapse in businesses and jobs which hold together the fabric of so many communities. It is welcome that the Scottish Government has responded to these urgent pleas for more support. It is this sort of flexibility that will ensure as many jobs are saved as is possible.’’

SNP AND TORY MSPS' REFUSAL TO BACK FREE BUS TRAVEL, “A KICK IN THE TEETH” FOR LOCAL NHS AND SOCIAL CARE WORKERS

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has described the decision by local SNP and Tory MSPs to vote down his proposal for free bus travel for NHS and Social Care workers for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis as a “kick in the teeth” for those workers.

The amendment, tabled by Colin Smyth, was defeated today (May 20) at Stage 3 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill as a result of SNP and Tory MSPs voting it down.

 

ColinSmythMSP

The proposal would have cut travel expenses for all the frontline NHS and Social Care workers keeping Scotland going throughout this pandemic. The Scottish Government has already intervened to offer financial support for rail and bus operators during this time, so the plan would have been funded from this, not costing taxpayers more. 

Under Colin Smyth’s proposal, free travel could have been introduced immediately as it would not have required the issuing of concessionary bus passes. Bus operators would have to allow NHS and Social Care staff to travel free in return for the financial support they are receiving from the Government. 

NHS and Care staff would simply have to show their NHS or Social Care Photo ID. A similar scheme is already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland, but so far the Scottish Government have failed to introduce proposals for Scotland.

Colin Smyth said: “Our NHS and Care workers are putting their own lives on the line to protect others, and it is disappointing that the Scottish Government has refused to at least remove their travel costs if they have to use public transport– despite offering a large financial support package to the transport companies.

“Some of these staff members have no other option than to travel to the front line by using public transport, and unlike their counterparts in some other parts of the UK they have to fork out for the privilege of doing so.

“The Labour-run Welsh government has offered bus companies financial support in exchange for committing to free NHS travel, with a similar scheme in Northern Ireland.

“Companies such as Borders Buses have been offering free journeys to NHS staff, despite the Scottish Government choosing not take responsibility for this and extend it to all of Scotland. All bus companies should be asked to do so in return for the millions of pounds of support they are receiving from the taxpayer at this time. It really is a kick in the teeth for local NHS and Care Staff that their local Tory and SNP MSPs voted down this plan.”

Weddings return welcomed

TWO LOCAL politicians have welcomed a decision to make weddings in Scotland possible during the coronavirus emergency.

 

Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell had backed calls for the relaxation which was approved at Holyrood on Wednesday.

 

A Conservative amendment giving the green light to carefully choreographed ceremonies, incorporating social distancing and with no large parties, was accepted and agreed unanimously by MSPs.

 

Whilst there was no formal ban in place, registrars had stopped officiating at ceremonies to focus on dealing with an increasing number of deaths during the current global pandemic.

 

The amendment to lockdown legislation going through the Scottish Parliament will let both weddings and civil partnerships go ahead with limited numbers attending.

 

 

mundells

Oliver Mundell described the change as striking the right balance between allowing ceremonies and controlling Covid-19.

 

He said: "This is some positive news as we come through this very difficult period.

 

"There are excellent venues across my constituency, including at world-famous Gretna and Gretna Green, with plenty of space where weddings and civil partnerships can take place in relative safety."

 

David Mundell said: "This is a small, but no less important, step. I'm very supportive.

"It is not only good news for those couples wishing to formalise their relationship but also, hopefully, sets the scene for better times ahead after lockdown for our vitally important hospitality industry."