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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.

 

Business Support Grants Released

Businesses can now apply for grants to help them deal with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Two types of grant are now available to ratepayers:

  • A one-off £10,000 grant to ratepayers of small businesses; and
  • A one-off grant of £25,000 available to retail, hospitality and leisure business ratepayers with a rateable value between £18,001 and £50,999.

The list is not exhaustive and if businesses think they may be eligible for one of these grants, they should contact Dumfries & Galloway Council, which are administering the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.

 

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Applying for a grant and getting paid

To apply, businesses will need to complete an application form, which can be found on local council websites. Dumfries & Galloway Council will aim to make payment within 10 working days of receiving a grant application form.

The one-off grants are designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovery, and more than 90,000 ratepayers across Scotland will be able to benefit.

The grant support is additional to separate tax relief measures and is part of a package of measures worth £2.2 billion.

Small businesses in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail business can benefit.

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE GRANT APPLICATION FORM

HARPER WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT ON CARAVAN AND CAMPSITES

Following raising the issue with the Scottish Government on Monday this week, South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has welcomed the advice from the Scottish Government which advises visitors staying on leisure sites to return home.

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In line with recent advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) announced by the First Minister, campsites, caravan and holiday parks in Scotland are to close immediately to new arrivals, including tourers, other transient visitors and holiday lets. 

 

In a statement the Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing stated that sites should also advise current visitors and owners of second homes on sites to return home and stay at home, where they can do so safely and practically.

 

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I am pleased that after raising the issue of tourists coming to the region directly with the Cabinet Secretary, despite the government advice in relation to COVID-19, that the Scottish Government has now acted and has issued urgent advice urging people to go home.

“I was able to make the Cabinet Secretary aware that this was a Scotland wide issue and not just focussed on the Isle of Skye and the Highlands. I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary agreed that messaging from the Scottish Government would be Scotland wide and empathised that people in the South West should not feel ignored.

“As the Scottish Government has made abundantly clear, this is not the time for holidays, travel, or for being away from home. Additional visitors, particularly to rural areas such as in Dumfries and Galloway, will put a severe strain on local resources and the NHS, which is not set up to cover the need of non-residents long term.   

“All those who can safely do so should now return to their primary residence. However, I also understand that in some cases residential mobile homes, motorhomes, campervans and holiday lets on a caravan park or tourist site may be someone’s primary home, and that some people will be unable to return to where they usually live. 

“Sites should be sympathetic to the circumstances of these individuals, and should, where necessary, remain open on a partial basis for these occupants only. 

“I, along with the Scottish Government, recognise this is an incredibly testing time for the tourism industry and I appreciate the tremendous effort underway by businesses, large and small, within the sector to respond.

“I would urge any local caravan site or tourism business who is looking for any advice and support to contact my office who will be able to provide, advice, guidance and support and indeed signpost those businesses to the appropriate government agency.”

Following raising the issue with the Scottish Government on Monday this week, South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has welcomed the advice from the Scottish Government which advises visitors staying on leisure sites to return home.

In line with recent advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) announced by the First Minister, campsites, caravan and holiday parks in Scotland are to close immediately to new arrivals, including tourers, other transient visitors and holiday lets. 

In a statement the Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing stated that sites should also advise current visitors and owners of second homes on sites to return home and stay at home, where they can do so safely and practically.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“I am pleased that after raising the issue of tourists coming to the region directly with the Cabinet Secretary, despite the government advice in relation to COVID-19, that the Scottish Government has now acted and has issued urgent advice urging people to go home.

 

 

“I was able to make the Cabinet Secretary aware that this was a Scotland wide issue and not just focussed on the Isle of Skye and the Highlands. I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary agreed that messaging from the Scottish Government would be Scotland wide and empathised that people in the South West should not feel ignored.

 

“As the Scottish Government has made abundantly clear, this is not the time for holidays, travel, or for being away from home. Additional visitors, particularly to rural areas such as in Dumfries and Galloway, will put a severe strain on local resources and the NHS, which is not set up to cover the need of non-residents long term.   

“All those who can safely do so should now return to their primary residence. However, I also understand that in some cases residential mobile homes, motorhomes, campervans and holiday lets on a caravan park or tourist site may be someone’s primary home, and that some people will be unable to return to where they usually live. 

“Sites should be sympathetic to the circumstances of these individuals, and should, where necessary, remain open on a partial basis for these occupants only. 

“I, along with the Scottish Government, recognise this is an incredibly testing time for the tourism industry and I appreciate the tremendous effort underway by businesses, large and small, within the sector to respond.

“I would urge any local caravan site or tourism business who is looking for any advice and support to contact my office who will be able to provide, advice, guidance and support and indeed signpost those businesses to the appropriate government agency.”

Coronavirus: Payroll 'Furloughing'

There are lots of questions about 'Staff Furloughing'.

 

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Here's what you need to know.

All UK employers can access the scheme (e.g. limited companies, sole traders, LLPs, charities etc).

• The scheme is designed to help employers retain those employees who would be otherwise “laid off”, by which we understand to mean made redundant or put on a period of “lay off” (an employment law term meaning a temporary period when employees are required to take unpaid leave because of a downturn in work).

• Employees will have to be designated by their employers as “furloughed” and notified of this designation.

• Furlough Leave has to be agreed between employer and employee. In other words, the employee cannot simply choose to be furloughed and the employer cannot furlough an employee without their agreement.

• However, if employers ask employees to agree to Furlough Leave, if faced with the choice of being furloughed (and receiving 80% of pay up to a specified cap) or being laid off without pay or made redundant, employees are likely to choose the furlough option.

• The vast majority of contracts of employment will not contain the right of employers to put employees on Furlough Leave. Therefore, employers wanting to make use of the scheme will have to obtain employee consent to vary their contracts of employment to allow the Furlough Leave.

• Whilst on Furlough Leave, employees can be paid 80% or 100% of salary. The Government will reimburse the employer 80% of salary up to £2,500 per month for each employee.

• The employer can choose to make up the remaining 20% of salary themselves. If they decide not to do this or are not in a position to do this, they should make it clear that the employee also consents to a deduction to their salary of 20%.

• In order to participate in the scheme, the employer should submit information to HMRC about the employees in question and details of their earnings via a new online Portal.

• HMRC will reimburse 80% of employment costs (thought to include employer pension contributions and employer national insurance contributions) up to £2,500 per employee per month.

• To qualify the employee must not carry out any work for the employer for the furlough period.

• This could cause some employee relations issues if some employees are not working and are receiving 80% of salary and others are having to work as normal. This will require careful and sensitive management by the employer.

• The scheme could also be open to abuse by unscrupulous employers claiming that staff are furloughed when they are, in fact, still working.

• The scheme will run for three months from 1 March 2020 but the Government has said it will be extended if necessary.

LOCAL MSP CELEBRATES WORK BEING DONE BY THE GALLOWAY GLENS PARTNERSHIP

South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has praised the footpath improvement work being done by the Galloway Glens Partnership, following a visit to the area on March 9.

The Galloway Glens Partnership works to connect people living and working in the area with its heritage and landscape in a bid to secure a prosperous future for the communities around the Water of Ken and River Dee. 

 

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The Partnership resulted from local interest in the area and a wish to better understand its heritage, and consists of a range organisation, including Dumfries and Galloway Council, local community organisations, The Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, Forestry Commission Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.

On March 9, before the Covid-19 restrictions had been put in place, Colin Smyth toured the Galloway Glens area, visiting the three footpath improvement projects recently undertaken and meeting partners from Forestry and Land Scotland, the Solway Firth Partnership and the National Trust for Scotland team at Threave Garden and Estate.

Colin Smyth said: “The Galloway Glens Partnership is brilliant example of how working together can achieve great things.

“The Galloway Glens area is very beautiful and the footpath improvements which I saw on my visit on March 9 are going to make a huge difference in the future.

“It was great to meet with some of the partners and to learn more about what is being done in the area.

 

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“The ethos behind the Partnership is also really impressive. For example, they try and use local contractors so as much money as possible goes back into the local area.”

McNabb Laurie, Galloway Glens Team Leader said: "We were delighted to show Colin the footpaths we have been working on with partners over recent months. 

“We are in a fortunate position to have funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland to ‘connect people to our heritage’ and these three footpaths demonstrate this perfectly, as well as wider health and wellbeing benefits. 

“The three sites, in Kirkcudbright Bay, by Castle Douglas and near Carsphairn, offer very different experiences and we will be working in coming years to embed these further with the local residents, as well as visitors to the area. 

“It is worth noting that all three path improvement projects were undertaken by Dumfries and Galloway based contractors, using aggregate from Dalbeattie. 

“A vital aim of the Galloway Glens Scheme is to spend as much Galloway Glens funding in the local area as possible. 

“Many thanks to all landowners, all match funders including the Scottish Natural Heritage administered 'Improving Public Access' scheme and everyone involved, especially Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Unesco Biosphere"

 

 

Dumfries and Galloway Council - essential lifeline services

The UK and Scottish Governments have announced new restrictions for all members of the public on Monday evening (24/03/2020), including travel to and from work where absolutely necessary.

 

Elaine Murray Council Leader 2017

The work the Council is undertaking - providing essential lifeline services to our most vulnerable and working with the NHS to protect citizens means it is necessary that our skilled and committed workforce continue help us to fulfil our responsibilities as a category 1 responder to this national emergency.

Essential Council staff will continue to work as previously directed. Over the coming day’s managers will prioritise staff working arrangements in line with national guidance.