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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.

 

MSP HARPER WELCOMES ADDITONAL SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESS

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has welcomed additional support from the Scottish Government for small businesses across Dumfries and Galloway.

Small businesses which share properties but do not pay business rates are now eligible to apply for grants to help with the impact of COVID-19.

The extension to the Small Business Grant Fund will apply to firms occupying shared office spaces, business incubators or shared industrial units and who lease the space from a registered, rate-paying landlord. Separately, eligibility has also been extended to companies occupying multiple premises with a cumulative value of more than £51,000.

The South Scotland MSP has also emphasised that the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes will close for new applications on the 10th of July and has encouraged people across the region to ensure their application is submitted by then.

 

emma harper

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“The Scottish Government’s comprehensive package of business support is now worth more than £2.3 billion. The programme of support is kept under constant review, and the Scottish Government are always looking for ways to extend eligibility to help more businesses. This is precisely why I welcome these additional support measures which will undoubtably support businesses across D&G.

“Small businesses – who are the backbone of our economy and society across South West Scotland – can now apply for financial support if they occupy shared office space, business incubators or shared industrial units, so long as they rent the space from a rate-paying landlord. This will allow many small businesses not yet entitled to support to access a much-needed financial injection of up to £10,000.

“Additionally, it has been brought to my attention that new applications for the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant schemes have slowed in recent weeks and that applications will close on the 10th of July. I therefore encourage eligible businesses to ensure they have applied before this date.”

College Academy Goes Digital

The first-ever online College Academy is underway at Dumfries and Galloway College.

Held digitally for the first time in its history, the programme offers secondary school students the opportunity to complement their studies with a course from one of ten different college subject areas.

The classes have been designed by educational specialists to meet the skills growth and employment training needs of the Dumfries and Galloway economy.

The College Academy programme comprises of classes in Creative Industries, Construction, Computing, Education and Childcare, Engineering, Motor Vehicle, Hair and Beauty, Health and Social Care, Professional Cookery, and Sport and Fitness, and last for one morning or afternoon each week.

 

DGCollege Joanna-Campbell

Principal Joanna Campbell welcomed the online launch of College Academy as part of her college’s commitment to ensuring that learning and teaching continues in the South of Scotland in the context of COVID-19.

Dumfries and Galloway College has led the way throughout the pandemic by providing online learning and teaching as well as assisting local services by providing food, vehicles, IT infrastructure, and other vital assistance.

Principal Joanna Campbell said:I am delighted to welcome students from our local secondary schools to our first-ever online College Academy.

 

“The skills and knowledge they gain from this programme will be invaluable in their future careers and I wish them all the very best as they make their way through it.

 

“Keeping learning and teaching going online as been at the forefront of our response to COVID-19 and taking College Academy online is a key plank of this.”

MSP HARPER WELCOMES SCOTLAND’S PPE EFFICIENCY

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has welcomed a new report which outlines the dramatic increase in supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Scotland since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that frontline workers are able to access the vital equipment they need.

 

emma harper

The Scottish Government, in partnership with the NHS, Scottish Enterprise, the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and private companies, has increased both the volume of PPE being manufactured in Scotland and the amount being imported from countries across Europe and around the world.

The South Scotland MSP has also welcomed that supplies of visors, gowns, aprons and equipment such as ventilators have all seen unprecedented increases. NHS National Services Scotland is now supplying more than 4.6 million surgical masks per week – 50% more than the total for the whole of the previous year.

The Scottish Government is also now supplying 11 million medical gloves per week to health boards, an increase of over 120%, and the public and private sectors have collaborated to meet the vastly increased demand for hand sanitiser – the equivalent of over a decade’s worth of normal supplies in just a few months. Many Dumfries and Galloway businesses including Crafty Distillery in Newton Stewart and Annandale Distillery have also played their part in ensuring the supply of hand sanitizer.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, there were a number of concerns raised around the supply of PPE across the whole of the UK. The Scottish Government therefore acted quickly and decisively to expand and strengthen PPE supplies in Scotland, ensuring that all frontline health and social care workers have access to the most appropriate PPE they need.

“I welcome that the Scottish Government have supported many Scottish businesses – including some across Dumfries and Galloway such as Crafty Distillery - to innovate and alter their production processes, so they can start making key items like masks, gowns and hand sanitiser, making Scotland less reliant on global supply chains. The Scottish Government were also the first administration in the UK to have a dedicated email address for anyone concerned about PPE supplies – so that these concerns can be addressed in a timely manner.

“The Scottish Government are continuing to work hard to provide PPE for both immediate and future needs, with a particular focus on domestic manufacturing to ensure sustainability and self-sufficiency of PPE for our hard working health and social care staff who do invaluable work each and every day.”

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Changes are coming to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), outlined below are important dates that may impact you in the coming weeks.

 

Covid-19-Job-Retention.png

Important dates – what you need to know now

  • The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.
  • So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 J‌un‌e – this is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme – this ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 J‌un‌e.
  • You will then have until 31 J‌ul‌y to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 J‌un‌e – this applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.

The future of the scheme

  • The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 J‌ul‌y.
  • On 12 J‌un‌e, we’ll publish full guidance on all the scheme changes on GOV.UK – search for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' to find this – webinars offering more support on the changes will also be available to book online from 12 June – please do not call us for more information, as everything you need to know about the scheme changes will be published online on GOV‌.UK.
  • From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.
  • Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.
  • From 1 Au‌gu‌st, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 Oc‌to‌be‌r.

Making changes to your claims if you have over-claimed

If you’ve made an error in a CJRS claim that means you received too much money, you must pay this back to HMRC.

We’ve updated the application system so you can tell us if you have over-claimed in a previous claim – when you apply you’ll be asked if you need to reduce the amount to take account of a previous error. Your new claim amount will be reduced to reflect this. You should then keep a record of this adjustment for six years.

If you have made an error in a CJRS claim and do not plan to submit further claims, we are working on a process that will allow you to let us know about your error and pay back any amounts that you have over-claimed. We will update guidance and keep you informed when this is available.

As part of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), I’ve outlined below important dates that may impact you in the coming weeks.
Important dates – what you need to know now
The scheme will close to anyone who hasn’t been furloughed for 3 weeks by 30 June, so you will only be able to claim for employees after that if they have been furloughed for a full three-week period at any time before the end of June.So, if you intend to furlough an employee who hasn’t been furloughed before, you will need to agree that with them and start their period of furlough on or before 10 J‌un‌e – this is the last day on which someone who has never been furloughed before can start a period of furlough and qualify for the scheme – this ensures the minimum three-week period is complete by 30 J‌un‌e.You will then have until 31 J‌ul‌y to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 J‌un‌e – this applies to both employees furloughed for the first time and those you have previously furloughed and claimed for.The future of the scheme
The rules of the scheme are changing from 1 J‌ul‌y.On 12 J‌un‌e, we’ll publish full guidance on all the scheme changes on GOV.UK – search for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' to find this – webinars offering more support on the changes will also be available to book online from 12 June – please do not call us for more information, as everything you need to know about the scheme changes will be published online on GOV‌.UK.From 1 July, you’ll have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time, you can decide the hours and shift patterns they work to suit the needs of your business – you’ll pay their wages for the time they’re in work and can apply for a scheme grant to cover any of their normal hours they are still furloughed for.Also, for periods starting on or after the 1 J‌ul‌y, the maximum number of employees you can claim for in any period cannot be higher than the maximum number you have claimed for in a previous period. For example, if your highest single claim for periods up to 30 J‌un‌e was for 100 people, you can’t claim for more than this number in later periods.From 1 Au‌gu‌st, you will need to contribute towards the wage costs of your furloughed employees until the scheme ends on 31 Oc‌to‌be‌r.Making changes to your claims if you have over-claimed
If you’ve made an error in a CJRS claim that means you received too much money, you must pay this back to HMRC.
We’ve updated the application system so you can tell us if you have over-claimed in a previous claim – when you apply you’ll be asked if you need to reduce the amount to take account of a previous error. Your new claim amount will be reduced to reflect this. You should then keep a record of this adjustment for six years.
If you have made an error in a CJRS claim and do not plan to submit further claims, we are working on a process that will allow you to let us know about your error and pay back any amounts that you have over-claimed. We will update guidance and keep you informed when this is available.

Gradual Recovery From COVID-19 Crisis Expected

Scotland’s economy faces a gradual recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, according to updated modelling published today.

Highlighting the scale of the challenge facing the nation, analysis by Scottish Government Chief Economist Gary Gillespie suggests that economic output may not recover to pre-crisis levels until the start of 2023.

However, the report also highlights how Government support has helped to mitigate the worst economic effects of the virus.

It sets out that:

  • Economic activity in April fell to historic lows as businesses were required to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • Activity is expected to pick up in the coming months as businesses prepare for the gradual reopening of the economy. However, significant uncertainty in the economic outlook remains; and
  • Unemployment is rising from its pre-COVID-19 lows and could increase to more than 10% this year, although the Job Retention Scheme is helping to contain this.

 

Fiona Hyslop DGArts Festival

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“These figures show in stark terms the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am aware that many people will be deeply concerned about their livelihoods as we start to emerge from lockdown, and the Scottish Government has been working tirelessly to keep businesses afloat and ensure as few people as possible lose their jobs.

“We have offered more than £2.3 billion to businesses to support them through this crisis, with £104 million having been awarded from the Scottish Government Business Support Fund alone, helping more than 2,500 businesses and 4,160 self-employed people in the space of just a month.

“It is critical that we now gradually reopen the economy, following the routemap out of lockdown that we have drawn up in close consultation with business organisations, trades unions and regulators. During this critical phase we will continue to work with employers so that they can safely get back to work and help the economy on its path to recovery.

“Given the scale of the challenge being faced by the Scottish economy in dealing with this crisis, the last thing our businesses need is the further economic turmoil that would occur under a no-deal Brexit. That is why we have repeated our calls for the UK Government to agree an extension to the transition period.”