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.

 

Dumfries & Galloway Council Waste Update

During COVID-19 Dumfries & Galloway Council will continue to collect your Wheelie Bin and for those who don’t have wheelie bins and use Council-issued purple bin bags these will continue to be collected as normal.

 

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However due to the COVID-19 pandemic Dumfries & Galloway Council need to introduce further changes to our waste and recycling services as the Government have introduced further restrictions over the last few days. With immediate effect Dumfries & Galloway Council are unable to collect side waste (extra bags next to your bin), and all waste to be collected must be contained within a wheelie bin, except if you have purple bags.

Dumfries & Galloway Council will collect any pre-paid bookings for bulky waste and white goods uplifts. Dumfries & Galloway Council cannot take any new bookings at this time. Household Waste Recycling Centres are closed and understand that some families may have extra waste and are actively working on solutions to help you with this, and will keep you posted on any developments. 

Dumfries & Galloway Council are deploying extra staff to support essential waste services. You can help during this difficult time by continuing to ensure your bin is out by the earlier time of 6.00am on the day of collection.

Further information if you live in Wigtown area:

In the Wigtown area Dumfries & Galloway Council will suspend the dry recycling and food waste collection service. From Monday 30 March 2020, householders will receive a weekly collection and all waste should be placed in the wheelie bin or council-issued purple bags. Wheelie bins and purple bags should be placed kerbside by 6am on the normal day of collection

MSP WARNS THAT FAILURE TO INCREASE STATUTORY SICK PAY WILL COST LIVES

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has pleaded with the UK Government to boost the level of statutory sick pay or risk more lives being lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

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The local MSP is being contacted by a growing number of constituents facing financial difficulties because they have had to self-isolate and their employment contract means they are only being paid statutory sick pay of £94.25 per week instead of their normal wages. 

The MSP is concerned that the financial pressures facing some people who don’t have symptoms of coronavirus but who should self-isolate because a family member does, means they will be going to work rather than following advice to self-isolate for at least 14 days for fear they won’t be able to pay the household bills. 

Mr Smyth fears that in particular, those with underlying health conditions who should self-isolate for a long period could be putting themselves at risk by going to work because without their salary they cannot afford to spend weeks and possibly months on statutory sick pay. 

The problem is exacerbated by the fact so few people are being tested for Covid-19 so people don’t know if they are carrying the virus or not.

Colin Smyth believes testing those with symptoms and their household would allow those who tested negative to get back to work immediately. 

Colin Smyth has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak pleading with the UK Government to increase the Statutory Sick Pay to above £94.25 per week to ensure those who do self-isolate do not face financial hardship.

If the UK Government fail to act he is urging the Scottish Government to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to bring in a higher level of Statutory Sick Pay in Scotland.

The local MSP is also urging the Scottish Government to step up testing and test as many of the people with symptoms, and their family members, as possible so people can return to work if they are negative and carrying out essential work or benefit from having their wages paid because their employer has asked them to stay at home.

Colin Smyth said: “I am deeply concerned at the growing number of people who have contacted me worried about the financial hardship they are facing as a result of losing their weekly wage packet and having to rely on statutory sick pay.

“An increasing number of people are doing the right thing by self-isolating as they or a family member develop symptoms. But if their company only pays statutory sick pay which is just £94.25 per week, this means more and more will face financial hardship. We should not be making people have to choose between self-isolating or paying the bills. 

“My deep fear is that some people without symptoms, who should be self-isolating, will be going out to work because they are struggling financially and that will spread the virus further.

“I am pleading with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase the current paltry level of statutory sick pay. If he won’t act then the Scottish Government should pass emergency legislation to bring in a higher level of Sick Pay in Scotland. They should also increase testing to allow those people who test negatively to go to work if they have to and are carrying out essential work.

“Without firm action there is no doubt that more lives will be lost.”

Scam messages condemned by MP & MSP

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell and Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell have been alerted by constituents to scam calls, emails and texts, wrongly purporting to be from the UK Government.

 

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David Mundell said: "Some are seeking bank details and offering financial help as part of Coronavirus support measures. Official bodies would clearly not approach individuals in such a way and I'd urge my constituents not to respond with any personal information."

 

Oliver Mundell said: "These scams are an unnecessary distraction. It's disgraceful that criminals, somewhere, are randomly sending messages to people, who may be distressed or feeling under pressure because of the current situation."

HARPER URGES TELECOM PROVIDERS TO INTRODUCE FLAT RATE CALLS

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has urged telecom companies to introduce flat-rate telephone calls to help keep people in touch with family members, friends, neighbours and support services for the duration of the restrictions which have been put in place in order to limit the number of people who will contract Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Many telecom companies regularly hike their prices, particularly for day time calls, which means people are put off using the phone during the day because of the cost implications of doing so.

Ms Harper has said that in rural areas of Scotland, in particular Dumfries and Galloway, access to a phone at a reasonable price is an essential lifeline for many of her constituents, a lifeline which will become intensified in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South Scotland MSP also said that the phone - as well as other online methods of communication - are essential tools in helping to tackle social isolation and loneliness, particularly amongst those at risk groups, including elderly people and people with underlying health conditions who are being asked to isolate for a 12 week period.  

 

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Commenting, Ms Harper said:

"In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and restrictions on people’s ability to interact in person with others to reduce the number of people contracting the virus, I am urging all telecom businesses to introduce a flat rate cost for calls.

"Due to the Scottish and UK Government joint message to stay at home, I recognise that the phone is an essential tool - particularly for rural areas such as many communities across Dumfries and Galloway - and allows people in these difficult times to keep in contact with their families, friends and companions. It also means people can call essential services for support and information - as well as for medical and financial advice.

"As has been repeated by both the Scottish and UK Governments, now is a time where all of us - people, communities and businesses - must come together to support one another and to, as far as possible, make life easier for our most vulnerable in society. I therefore hope that telecom companies take forward this request and introduce flat rate calls which will be extremely helpful, particularly to many of my elderly and vulnerable constituents, across Dumfries and Galloway and wider South Scotland. 

"If any constituent is experiencing any issue with their service providers, or if they are looking for any advice and support, then I would urge them to get in touch with my office where I and my staff will be able to help."

Guidance From Scottish Government On Business Closures

We're getting lots of questions seeking clarification on the guidance about the 'lockdown'.

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Below is a summary of what the First Minister clarified on the situation:

  • It should up to employers to make the decision, not employees, and it should based on precautionary principles.
  • If staff can work from home, they should;
  • Bosses should consider if work is essential e.g. in the fight against coronavirus (such as helping the NHS, or providing some form of essential care) or providing for food (manufacturing, processing or in the supply chain.)
  • If it is essential, business should remain open but in all instances, social distancing should be maintained;
  • Is the business contributing anything essential to wellbeing e.g. food, or to contribute to the fight against coronavirus? If not, then it should close;
  • If businesses cannot justify that it is essential with regard to the above criteria, then they should not be operating;
  • Leisure and hospitality premises were told to close last week;
  • All non-essential retail outlets should close immediately;
  • Strategic sites, or those that can’t be shut down, e.g. Dalzell steel, can stay open; and
  • Construction sites should shut unless they are working on a hospital.