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.

 

Council Looks to Create Funding Toolkit

As a result of the pandemic, businesses are having to adapt, innovate and adopt new ways of working – Dumfries & Galloway Council need to recognise that this presents opportunities as well as challenges.

Members of the council's Economy and Resources Committee (15 Sept) will be asked to agree to officers seeking early draw down of Dumfries and Galloway’s balance of £243k of business loans allocation available through the Business Loans Scotland fund. This would be be used to establish a funding toolkit from which support would be provided on a discretionary basis to businesses to help restart, change operating models and to diversify into other areas. The money for this fund was previously transferred over from Scottish Enterprise Borders and Scottish Enterprise Dumfries.

Throughout the initial emergency response, the Council played a key role supporting local businesses, and acted immediately to distribute Scottish Government grant aid, including the Small Business Grant Scheme, Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund and the Bed and Breakfast Hardship Fund. To date almost £43m from the Small Business grant scheme has been allocated. In addition, the Self-employed scheme paid out £272k, and the B’n’B fund £63k.  

 

Rob Davidson

Chair of Economy and Resources, Rob Davidson said: “We realise the initial funding will have helped during the pandemic, but we are not out of the woods yet, and more assistance is needed. As we start to emerge from COVID-19 this Council continues to do everything possible to support our local businesses and restart the economy. The development of the Council’s workstream action plans have been prepared covering the next three financial years reflecting current forecasts and ensuring sustainability and flexibility. Providing Members agree, this money could be used by businesses to make vital adaptations in order for them to stay afloat and change to adapt the new market.”

Vice Chair, Archie Dryburgh said:  “The Council will also need to adapt and change to ensure we are positioned to play our part in supporting local communities and businesses recover.  At a national level, economic forecasters are predicting that the economy will not recover to its pre-COVID levels of Gross Domestic Product until 2024, with unemployment likely to peak during late 2020 and into early 2021, so we must act now.

MSP SMYTH COMMENTS ON COVID-19 ROUTE MAP UPDATE FROM FIRST MINISTER

Commenting on the First Minister’s statement to the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday 10 September) on the next phase of lockdown easing, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “The news that the Scottish Government are not only stalling on the plans to ease out of lockdown, but going backwards on many previous plans is a  sobering reminder that it is more important than ever that we take precautions to keep ourselves and our communities safe. We need to continue to act responsibly and use common sense.

 

ColinSmythMSP

“We should never lose sight of the fact this virus is still out there and ultimately saving lives is the most important consideration in everything we do.

“However, I know a lot of people will be feeling extremely disappointed and worried following the First Minister’s announcement.

“This will be felt particularly hard in the entertainment industry which was previously told that some indoor and outdoor live events could take place and the sector could slowly start operating again from mid September.

“I am extremely concerned that the entertainment sector is continuing to see hit after hit. The Scottish Government is going to have do all it can to ensure the whole industry doesn’t disappear, which would be a disaster thousands of jobs across the region.”

“I am pleased that some progress has been made in allowing small wedding receptions , albeit limited to 20 people. It will be a slight ray of sunshine for a sector that has been utterly decimated and for couples who have had to put their big day on hold”.

Quarter Of A Million Pounds To Focus Council Resources On Economic Recovery

Members of the Council’s Economy and Resources Committee (15 Sept) will hear a report on the Economic Recovery Plan for 2019-23 which includes the request for an allocation of over £250k for the remainder of this financial year, and more than double that in subsequent years, which recognises how serious this Council takes the region’s economic recovery.

Economic recovery for our region remains a top priority, however, some aspects of the workstream action plans highlight areas which will require additional resource. This includes the need to address staffing levels and form a more flexible team, and the re-focussing of workstreams.

The committee report provides Members with an update on the Council’s approach to supporting a sustainable, fair and inclusive economic recovery through the development of a flexible, multi-year action plan which reflects the seven workstreams agreed at Full Council on 30 July 2020.

 

Rob Davidson

Chair of Economy and Resources Committee, Rob Davidson said: “By requesting this additional funding for workstreams and boosting our staffing resources we are demonstrating that we are in this for the long term. Recovery isn’t going to happen overnight, and we need to look at long term, sustainable solutions. At a national level, economic forecasters are predicting that the economy will not recover to its pre-COVID levels of Gross Domestic Product until 2024, with unemployment likely to peak during late 2020 and into early 2021, so we must act now but do so with a clear commitment to future action too.  As well as over £260k this year there is a request for a further funds up until 2023.  This early consideration of future funding will be important to secure longer term commitment and confidence with partners and business.”

Vice Chair Archie Dryburgh said: “Support to business during the next six to nine-month period is critical, but we won’t stop there. We recognise that there will be no ’quick fix’ to the effects of the pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis.  By requesting additional funding, we will support businesses through this challenging time for as long as is necessary.“

DGChamber President Comments On Route Map Latest

Responding to the latest update of the route map for Scotland through and out of lockdown restrictions, Kenny Bowie, President of DGChamber said:

 

Kenny_Bowie.jpg

“It is disappointing that we seem to have taken a step back in terms of compliance with guidelines while the virus has taken steps forward. We need to control the spread of the virus more effectively and we urge all to follow the rules.

“We can ill afford a return to stricter measures. DGChamber has been witness to the huge efforts and investments businesses have made to implement safe operating practices so that they are COVID safe and secure. We need to move forward to ensure our economy can recover and stem the loss of jobs where possible. That’s why we need our offices to be allowed to open quickly, particularly those where businesses have worked closely with employees and invested heavily in safety procedures. For the sake of our theatres, live music venues, soft play and indoor contact sports facilities, clear guidance on when they can reopen safely is also required quickly.

“We need effort and investment rolled out to ensure testing facilities are expanded and properly resourced. Until a vaccine or some other intervention is in place, we must learn to manage the spread of the virus smarter.”

 

'Eat Out' discounts boost for local hospitality sector

OFFICIAL figures reveal more than 122,000 meals were served up in August through the UK Government 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme in Dumfries and Galloway Westminster constituency.

 

Eat-Out-to-Help-Out.jpg

Local MP Alister Jack stated he was delighted with the take-up of the scheme in which 158 hospitality businesses serving meals registered to participate in the wide area stretching from Dumfries the Stranraer.

 

The total amount claimed by eating places in the constituency on Monday to Wednesday qualifying days was £653,000, excluding the busy final day of the scheme August 31.

 

Although the full month figures are still being collated the average Dumfries and Galloway discount per meal by late August was £5.37.

 

Across Scotland 8,543 outlets took part in the scheme with discounts being claimed up to August 27 averaging £6.10p on more than 6,333,000 meals served.

 

Mr Jack, who is also Scottish Secretary, stated he had good feedback locally from restaurant, cafes and licensed trade members who served meals through the initiative.

 

He said: "In an area like ours where the hospitality industry is so important to the economy the scheme came as a Godsend at a time when some businesses feared they might not survive after lockdown.

 

"It was also good to see local people being encouraged to eat out for the first time for a long period and I'm sure some will continue to support our excellent choice of food outlets going forward."