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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 Release Q3 Economic Indicator Survey

The latest Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) Quarterly Economic Indicator survey for Q3 of 2019 shows that businesses continue to struggle due to factors caused by Brexit uncertainty in the most recent quarter. Confidence remains on a downward trend in most sectors compared to the same period last year. Yet businesses, particularly in the financial and business services sector, are cautiously optimistic that a positive outcome to Brexit on 31 October could start restoring confidence in the Scottish economy.

Key highlights:

• On recession risk: data suggests that Scotland should avoid a ‘technical recession’ – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth – when the next set of official figures are released later on this year.
• On the construction sector: The balance of construction firms increasing investment – total, capital and training – all fell into negative territory in Q3, with the level of work in progress at the lowest level in six years.
• On the retail sector: Confidence dipped in the retail and wholesale sector in the quarter as revenue trends fell back. Domestic issues such as too-high business rates and competition – online and on the high street – remain key concerns.

The survey, conducted by Scottish Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute, is Scotland’s longest-running economic survey of its kind.

 

 

SCC President Tim Allen

Commenting on the results, Tim Allan, Chairman of the Scottish Business Advisory Group and President of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Our research shows that overall business performance has declined in the last year as companies take on board extra uncertainties caused by the tortuous progress of the Brexit process.

“The challenges businesses face are laid bare in the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Indicator for Q3. As the UK faces yet another deadline in the Brexit process, construction and manufacturing have reported severe challenges in terms of future orders, exports and investment. Meanwhile companies in sectors including retail and tourism face continued challenges in recruiting people with the right skills as the number of available workers from Europe continues to decline.

“We continue to affirm the view that a disorderly, no-deal departure from EU will have painful, long lasting consequences for the economy in Scotland and the UK. But we also believe that, if Brexit is not just done but done well, there is significant potential for an upside.

“Uncertainty has undoubtedly stymied corporate investment. We put a direct challenge to political leaders today – deliver a positive outcome to Brexit and the economy will benefit. We believe there is a wall of cash that has been pent up while the process of leaving the EU has unfolded which can and will be unleashed.

“What employers need more than ever is for Scottish and UK governments to hone their focus on the needs of the economy. Scotland in particular suffers a long-standing problem of slower economic growth relative to England and poor productivity compared to global peers. We urgently need to correct these trends if Scotland is to deliver an inclusive economy that provides the jobs, skills and prosperity for current and future generations.”

On the construction sector, Tim Allan said:

“The QEI reveals that while revenues have remained healthy so far, work-in-progress has collapsed to the lowest level since 2013.

“Of particular concern is the drop off in investment, particularly in training. If Scotland is going to meet the challenge of recruitment difficulties caused by the end to freedom of movement, upskilling the Scottish workforce is essential. But this will not happen unless employers have the confidence to invest in the skills development of the workforce.”

On the manufacturing sector, Tim Allan said:

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, the manufacturing sector continues to struggle with the difficulties presented by Brexit uncertainty. As a result, confidence has tanked in the latest quarter as sales and exports fell and profits shrank. The sector has been hit by rising costs due to foreign exchange volatility and the ‘do we, don’t we’ stockpiling issue forced upon them by various Brexit deadlines. Manufacturers are a vital part of the Scottish economy and they are calling out for clarity.”

On retail and wholesale, Tim Allan said:

“Retailers are not feeling optimistic in Q3 and there is concern that the all-important pre-Christmas trading period could disappoint. Nevertheless, companies in this sector are gearing up for at least some investment and recruitment in the fourth quarter. However, more employers in the sector have reported recruitment difficulties which will continue to provide challenges. Domestic issues such as too-high business rates and competition – online and on the high street ¬– remain key concerns.”

On tourism, Tim Allan said:

“Optimism in Scotland’s key tourism sector has remained in positive territory but has shown a significant decline from the same time last year. Interestingly, businesses reported a slight increase in visitors from the EU compared to Q2. But this has not translated into easier recruitment, with employers reporting difficulties in finding staff.”

On financial and business services, Tim Allan said:

“This sector has demonstrated the most resilience in Q3, with increases in revenues and investment underpinning confidence. There is some cautious optimism for the fourth quarter which suggests there is expectation that a positive Brexit outcome will, after three very challenging years since the vote, see some much-needed renewal of vigour return to markets.”

Commenting on the results, Professor Graeme Roy, Director at the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said:

“Scottish businesses appear to be treading water as they await clarity on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU.

“The data suggests that Scotland should avoid a ‘technical recession’ – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth – when the next set of official figures are released later on this year. However, growth remains fragile and investment levels remain weak.

“A ‘no deal’ Brexit remains the greatest immediate risk to the Scottish economy. It is misguided to argue that ‘no deal’ is better than further delay. A ‘no deal’ would not only act as a major economic shock but will do little to curb uncertainty, with the UK’s future relationship with the EU still needing resolved.”

Savings Add Up With Electric Cars

Electric cars travel up to three times the distance of their petrol or diesel rivals for the same amount of money, according to research.

 

 

SWNS DIGITAL HUB SUPPLIED

With interest in electric cars rising, many potential buyers are left confused by the way running costs are explained, with ‘miles per kWh’ difficult to compare to ‘miles per gallon’.

To help consumers, car reviews and advice website Parkers.co.uk has developed a way of showing how far your car will go on a single pound - regardless of what fuel it runs on.

The figure – dubbed 'miles per pound' (mpp) - reveals how much a car can travel for £1 of petrol, diesel or electricity.

The study found the Kia e-Niro First Edition and the Renault Zoe 65kW are the most efficient models on sale in the UK today, with the cars capable of travelling 33.1 miles per pound (mpp) of electricity.

This is more than three times as far as the most economical version of the Ford Fiesta (9.3mpp), the UK’s best-selling vehicle, when using official testing figures.

With the average UK motorist driving around 7,150 miles per year, they would spend just £216 over a 12 month period if they charged their Kia e-Niro or Renault Zoe from home.

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range was the third most economical, covering 32.3mpp, while the Volkswagen e-Golf was fourth on 30.8mpp.

Parkers.co.uk calculated the cost for electric cars based on home charging prices rather than using public charging points, as costs for public charging can vary wildly.

The mpp data is also only available for cars on sale since 2017 and that are also currently available to buy.

For this reason, the Hyundai Kona Electric, which could travel 30.8mpp, does not appear on the list as it is sold out due to high demand.

 

Keith Adams, editor of Parkers.co.uk, said: “We created miles per pound as a way of demystifying the running costs of electric vehicles (EVs) because above and beyond their range, and how long they take to charge, there is little uniformity in how carmakers express just how much energy these cars use.

“As interest in EVs becomes more widespread, there remains a lot of confusion around running costs but the MPP figure generates a figure that is relatable to anyone.

"In a nutshell, it tells you how much it costs to drive any EV after plugging it up at home and topping it up on domestic electricity.

“In addition, miles per pound should help drivers who know how many miles they cover in a year to work out up-front fuelling costs, and possibly choose a more expensive electric car over its petrol counterpart.

“Taking fuelling costs into account, monthly costs for internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and electric vehicles (EVs) are much closer than the gap in list price might suggest.

"On something like a Volkswagen Golf, going electric will save you around £70 per 1,000 miles.

“And interest is rising. People are searching before they buy. Traffic to our Electric Cars section has grown by 80 per cent since the beginning of 2019, and it’s continuing to accelerate strongly.”

Parkers.co.uk based the price of electricity on the cost per kilowatt hour on a domestic tariff, while petrol and diesel is based on the AA Fuel Price Reports.

The mpp metric has been launched as the EV market continues to grow.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), sales of purely electric cars are up by more than 200 per cent in 2019, with the market share increasing from 0.7 per cent to 2.2 per cent.

Keith Adams added: “As range improves, electric cars are becoming a more and more enticing option and the miles per pound tool really drives down how cheap these zero emission vehicles are when you’re on the road.

“While it’s easy to be put off at the price of an electric car, when you look at it from a monthly costs perspective the prospect is all the more attractive.

"The running costs are low, there is zero road tax and, from next year, zero company car tax, too.”

 

DGBusiness Awards - ENTER NOW!

BEST FOR BUSINESS

The 2020 DGBusiness Awards are now open for entry

Who are the leading lights in our business community?

2020 DGBusiness Awards Logo

Sponsored by 

 

If you’re an aspiring or established entrepreneur, a business leader or part of a family firm, if you run an SME or a large company; now is the time to showcase your success and be recognised in the 2020 DGBusiness Awards sponsored by Cunninghame Housing Association.

Organised by DGChamber, the bi-annual awards are the biggest celebration of business in the South of Scotland.

There are 12 categories to enter, including Small Business, Young Business Person, and Family Business. Entry is free and is now open using the links below.

The closing date for entries is 5pm on Friday, January 17th, 2020.

The winners will be announced at a black-tie awards dinner at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries on Friday, March 20, 2020.

 

THE CATEGORIES FOR THE 2020 DGBUSINESS AWARDS sponsored by Cunninghame Housing Association ARE:

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR CATEGORY

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR CATEGORY SPONSORED BY ALPHA SOLWAY

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER YOUR BUSINESS IN OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE CATEGORY

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE INDEPENDENT RETAILER AWARD

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE TOURISM BUSINESS OR ORGANISATION CATEGORY SPONSORED BY THE CRICHTON TRUST

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER MOST PROMISING NEW BUSINESS CATEGORY SPONSORED BY SP ENERGY NETWORKS

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE OUTSTANDING BUSINESS WITH UNDER 25 EMPLOYEES CATEGORY SPONSORED BY CUNNINGHAME HOUSING ASSOCIATION

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE OUTSTANDING BUSINESS WITH 25 OR MORE EMPLOYEES CATEGORY SPONSORED BY CUNNINGHAME HOUSING ASSOCIATION

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE OUTSTANDING FAMILY BUSINESS CATEGORY SPONSORED BY ARMSTRONG WATSON

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE OUTSTANDING SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CATEGORY

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER BEST WORK READY PROJECT CATEGORY SPONSORED BY DEVELOPING THE YOUNG WORKFORCE DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE CHAMPION IN DEVELOPING THE YOUNG WORKFORCE CATEGORY SPONSORED BY DEVELOPING THE YOUNG WORKFORCE DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY

 

 

 

LOCAL LABOUR POLITICIANS WELCOME “GAME CHANGING” INVESTMENT PLAN TO TACKLE ANNAN FLOODING

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth and Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall have welcomed “game changing” plans by Scottish Water to invest around £3 million to reduce the risk of flooding in Annan.

 

 

The local Labour politicians have been campaigning for the investment since flash flooding hit the town in July 2017 and this week met up with Scottish Water at the planned site for the work in Newington Park ahead of a public exhibition on the plans.

The proposals would involve the provision of significant storm water storage tanks in the Park as well as improvements to the local sewer network.

The work in Newington Park is expected to start in early 2020 and be completed by Summer 2021 and aims to reduce the impact of flooding by providing protection to a 1:10 year storm event.

Once the work is completed in the Park, as a bonus new park equipment will also be installed by Scottish Water. The proposals went on display at a drop in event in St Andrew’s Social Club in Annan earlier this week.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “These proposals from Scottish Water really are game changing and are exactly what Sean and I have been campaigning for. This is a major investment that will significantly reduce the impact of any flooding in and around Newington Park and is long overdue. Since I was contacted by residents hit by the flash flooding in July 2017 and Sean and I have urged Scottish Water to take action. We are pleased they have responded so positively with these plans.  The scale of the work proposed will inevitably cause some disruption during construction including closing the park and will take more than a year to fully complete but will make a real difference in the long term. In the meantime, we have urged Scottish Water to work with residents to keep them fully up to date as work progresses and provide any temporary support they can such a pumps in gardens, should we see have any flooding before the work is completed”.

Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall said, “Having met with concerned residents on a number of occasions who are desperate for a long term, permanent solution to the flooding of their properties and in light of the most recent flooding that occurred in this area only weeks ago, I am delighted that after meeting Scottish Water Officials along with Colin Smyth MSP this week, Scottish Water have confirmed they will be investing £3M on a project that will "hopefully prevent any more flooding in this part of Annan".

Whilst work is due to commence in January 2020 and parts of Newington Park will not be able to be used for over 12 months due to the extent of the project, it will be well worth it as not only will there be a solution to the flooding at the end of the works the project also includes an extra bonus of the the installation of a new playpark and equipment at Newington Park".

As More Cabinets Are Switched On, Is Your Business Going Superfast ?

Whether you work from home or use premises having reliable fast broadband is now a fundamental part of your business - big or small.

 

Superfast_Broadband.jpg

 

Did you know, that thanks to the £460 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme over 58,000 homes and businesses across Dumfries and Galloway can now access fibre broadband? . It's the first time the programme has brought fibre broadband to Mochrum, Mouswald and Newbridge with more fibre cabinets also now live in Sandhead, Mossyard and Kirtlebridge. 

Find out how fast broadband can help your business BY CLICKING HERE

Upgrades are not automatic, so in order to benefit from fast broadband you need to sign up with a service provider. You can check if the services are available at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.

DSSB is delivered through two projects – led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise in its area and the Scottish Government in the rest of Scotland – funding partners also include the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund.

Across Scotland over 936,000 premises can now access fibre broadband thanks to the programme – over 5,000 new fibre street cabinets are now live and more than 13,000km of cable has been laid by engineers from Openreach, Scotland’s digital network business. Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable broadband connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps1 and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from.

Research has suggested that every public pound invested in fibre broadband in Scotland is delivering almost £12 of benefits to the Scottish economy. The independent report commissioned by DSSB and undertaken by consultants Analysys Mason estimates the total benefit from investment as £2.76 billion over 15 years.

Sara Budge, Director of DSSB said: “I am delighted that the programme has connected so many businesses in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Getting online is important. Superfast works hard to help you work faster. From downloading large files via Dropbox to uploading tender submissions, high speed means less stress.

“Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable connections at speeds of up to 80Mbps* and there are many suppliers in the marketplace to choose from."