The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.



During National Carers Week (8-14 June), South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has paid tribute to carers, Karen Wylie and the team of volunteers at Lochside Community Centre, operated by Lochside Community Association, who have helped feed local families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.


Emma Harper generic Image

National Carers Week is an annual campaign which aims to raise awareness of caring and highlight the challenges that unpaid and young carers face and the contributions that they make to families and communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that carers are faced with new challenges, taking on extended or additional caring responsibilities for relatives and friends, who are disabled, ill or older and who require support.

Ms Harper paid tribute to Karen Wylie, Project co-ordinator and ‘Grub Club’ cook and her team of volunteers at Lochside Community Centre who, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, mobilised to adapt their usual business model to develop a doorstep delivery service.

Whilst Dumfries & Galloway Council stepped up allocation of food for children and young people via the free school meal programme, Lochside Community Association identified that the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic meant that some people’s financial situations were being drastically altered. In some cases this was happening overnight without any warning and there were families who would not meet the free school meals criteria.

The community also has a significantly aging demographic with many households falling into the high-risk categories. Many of these are lone occupancy households, are elderly, have underlying health issues and  lack the capacity to do online shopping.

Karen Wylie, said;

Many of our families here in North West Dumfries are on low-incomes and being either furloughed, made redundant or are self-employed and were previously only just getting by have been plunged suddenly into financial insecurity.


“To help feed our community at this time we have been distributing 750 to 1000 packed lunches three days a week. For many households it’s not just about receiving the food it’s about breaking the monotony. Offering the provision of homemade frozen ready meals also ensures that some of our most vulnerable residents receive every possible help to access free nutritious food.


“Getting the knock at the door and receiving a packed lunch has become a highlight of some people’s day. On some days we have been including a little activity pack or a request to encourage interaction to maintain connectivity with our ‘wee grub clubbers’ and their families.

South Scotland MSP, Emma Harper said;

Karen Wylie and her team at Lochside Community Centre have played a critical role in delivering care and support to local families within their neighbourhood during this pandemic.


“In normal times the centre operates, supported by Aberlour, Dumfries & Galloway Council and a team of willing volunteers. However, in this crisis they have demonstrated their detailed knowledge of the circumstances facing their community and have mobilised quickly to help feed families.


“They have also offered a sensitive approach with the lockdown restrictions challenging our basic need to connect and so I commend Karen Wylie and all her volunteers at Lochside Community Centre who have demonstrated fantastic community spirit during such a difficult time”.

Normally MSPs would be attending the annual parliamentary celebration event for Carers Week in the Garden lobby of the Scottish Parliament but this year MSPs will be paying tribute online.

For more information on Carers Week visit

Barony Offers Rural Business Management Degree, Study Part Time and Find a NEW Career Path.

SRUC are offering their Rural Business Management Degree from the Barony Campus from this September.


A top-up degree for people with a HND or similar qualification, the degree is awarded by University of Glasgow.

It's a direct entry into the 3rd year of the degree so after one-year candidates achieve a general degree then if they progress to fourth year they achieve an honours degree. 


The course is available for part time study and using on-line material, you can continue working and study in your own way!


The course provides you with a thorough knowledge of the fundamental concepts of business management including Marketing, Management Strategy, Research Skills and Economins.  delivered with modules which relate expertise to the agricultural and rural industries. With practical work such as field trips, case studies, business plans, study tours, industry placements and professional practice, you'll have more than just a theoretical understanding of your chsen industry when you graduate. 


The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accredited Rural Surveying pathway, allows students to take a specified group of modules which will enable them to pursue a career as a Chartered Rural Surveyor.




SRUC logo


Bank of Scotland’s Business Barometer for May 2020 shows:


  • Overall confidence for firms in Scotland rose 17 points in the past month to -33%
  • Firms’ confidence in their own business prospects was -26%, compared with -29% in April
  • Growing number of firms experienced an increase in demand for goods and services

Business confidence in Scotland rose 17 points during May to -33%, remaining near record lows, according to the latest Business Barometer from Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking.

Companies in Scotland reported higher confidence in their own business prospects than in April at -26%. When taken alongside their views of the economy overall, this gives a headline confidence reading of -33%.

The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.

In an illustration of the impact COVID-19 is having on Scotland’s business, the majority of firms continued to see demand negatively affected during May, but with the picture improving slightly since April. 65% experienced a fall in demand for their products and services, down seven points on the month before. Meanwhile, 12% experienced an increase in demand, up on 5% in April.

The number of Scottish firms operating at less than 50% capacity increased 18 points to 43%. A fifth of firms (20%) weren’t operating at all, down from 32% in April.

Of the 75% of businesses reporting disruption to their supply chain during May, 19% expected the situation to improve within three months, while 14% expected it would take more than 12 months to return to normal levels.


BOS Fraser Sime (BOS Supplied)

Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland Commercial Banking, said: “Scottish firms have been hit hard by this crisis, but they’re showing resilience in the face of great challenge. It’s encouraging to see that some businesses are beginning to reopen as demand creeps back. We’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with companies from all sectors to help them overcome the challenges presented during this difficult time.”

National overview

Across the UK, business confidence held steady month-on-month, dipping just one point to   -33%. The North East and London both saw confidence rise month-on-month, scoring the joint-highest confidence reading at -20%. The South West recorded lowest confidence at         -51%, compared to -35% the month prior.

From a regional perspective, despite all being in negative sentiment, six of the 12 regions reported a higher confidence in May. The North East was the least negative region at -20%. The South West was the most negative region at -51% followed by the South East at -45%.

In May, the construction sector saw the sharpest decline, falling 24 percentage points to -44%. However, all the three other major sectors saw a modest increase. The retail sector increased eight points to -25%, while manufacturing rose to -27% and services saw a small increase of four points to -18%.

Paul Gordon, Managing Director for SME and Mid Corporates, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While May continued to show the unprecedented impact of the shutdown for businesses across the UK, it is important to see that now half of all regions are climbing back from the lowest levels seen last month. As Britain sees further easing of measures in the coming weeks, with more businesses re-opening, it is hoped that this will further improve businesses’ confidence. Government schemes and finance options continue to be made readily available to businesses so that they can be best placed and prepared to open once again in the months ahead.”

Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Despite the results partly capturing the period since the Government’s announcement of an initial easing of restrictions, trading conditions remain difficult for most firms. Nevertheless, a further relaxation of constraints will enable more businesses to resume their activities.”

Get Road Ready With FREE Safety Check

Motorists are being urged to ‘Get Road Ready’ after research revealed millions are risking a blowout by driving with underinflated tyres following weeks of not using their cars.


Car Tyre (SWNS Digital)

A survey of 2,000 motorists found just four in 10 can correctly identify the low tyre pressure warning light when it pops up on the dashboard.

And 50 per cent of drivers who have encountered the warning light have ignored it - despite underinflated tyres placing excess pressure on the edges of the tyre, causing them to wear more rapidly.

However, with cars remaining parked up over the past two months, checks on tyres, lights and battery are likely to have been neglected further due to a lack of use.

But with just 68 per cent of drivers surveyed by Halfords knowing the correct tyre pressure for their car, and with the average driver checking their tyre pressure just once every three months, the consequences of non-roadworthy tyres could be serious.

Underinflated tyres are more likely to suffer a blowout, use more fuel, make steering heavier and affect the car’s ride quality.

Halfords has now launched its ‘Get Road Ready pledge’, to help motorists safely return to the roads, offering a free 30 minute service.

This covers checks on tyre depth, tyre inflation, a battery health test, headlights and brake lights, screen wash, AdBlue, coolant and oil levels, and is intended to help keep motorists in control and reassure them at this critical time.

Halfords has capacity to carry out 25,000 Road Ready Car Checks a week, which would normally cost £15, at any Halfords retail store or Autocentre.

Graham Stapleton, Halfords’ CEO, said: “The easing of restrictions and the advice to avoid public transport means there are likely to be more cars on our roads.

“Our insight shows that due to the lockdown, one in five members of the public haven’t used their car in a month, so that’s why we are offering this £15 check for free.

“It means that we can support drivers and give them peace of mind and help to prevent any motoring surprises for when they get back on the road.

“Having your car checked by an expert should help give drivers that extra reassurance they need.”

Almost seven per cent of all cars fail their MOT due to defective tyres, according to the DVSA.

Tyre pressure can fall due to a natural leakage of air through the walls of the tyre, drops in ambient temperature and slow puncture.

More than one third (35 per cent) of those polled admitted to driving around with underinflated tyres in the past because there was a queue at the petrol station.

And almost one quarter (23 per cent) said they didn’t put air in their tyres because they didn’t want to pay to do it.

But 10 per cent of drivers incorrectly think underinflated tyres can improve fuel efficiency, despite it being estimated that a tyre with 20 per cent less air uses 20 per cent more fuel.

For more information on how to book in a free Road Ready Car Check go to

Car Maker To Cover Payments If Customers Lose Job Due To Covid-19

A car manufacturer has become the first in the UK to cover finance payments on new cars in the event the owner loses their job due to the coronavirus pandemic.



In a groundbreaking move, Alfa Romeo has pledged to pay up to seven months of payments on its models at no cost to the driver.

Customers whose employment circumstances change during the first 12 months of the financial agreement will be eligible for the payment waiver under the Job Loss Protection scheme.

It is a response to research by Alfa Romeo which found almost one third of British motorists are interested in buying a new car but are concerned about their job security.

Arnaud Leclerc, head of brand for Alfa Romeo, EMEA region and managing director for FCA UK and Ireland said: “We know these are uncertain times, so what better way to support our customers than give them the reassurance that should their financial circumstances change in the months ahead, we will be there to cover their monthly car repayments.”

Car dealerships will begin reopening on June 1 after the government began easing restrictions on the retail sector following March’s total shutdown.

The survey of 2,000 motorists by Alfa Romeo found one in five had said the pandemic had so far stopped them buying a new or used car.

And four in 10 revealed concerns about entering a showroom due to Covid-19, with one fifth saying a safe buying process was one of the most important factors when considering buying a car.

But 62 per cent said they would road test a new car if they saw a professional cleaner disinfect the interior before they were allowed to drive it.

More than a third (36 per cent) also said they would consider buying a new car if the manufacturer covered finance payments as a result of them losing their job due to Covid-19

To ensure safety among staff and customers, all Fiat, Abarth, Jeep and Alfa Romeo dealerships are undergoing a strict cleaning process.

Staff will be wearing gloves and facemasks and respecting social distancing.

New cars are delivered with a certified level of hygiene and all cars will be thoroughly cleaned between each appointment and customers will be able to road test cars without an accompanying salesperson.

The unique protection, available in conjunction with selected finance products, comes with all new Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Abarth and Jeep models and covers involuntary job loss as well as customers who are unable to work due to sickness.

It can be activated during the 12 months from the date of the finance agreement, allowing customers to forgo up to seven months of payments.

Every new car financed or leased from June 1 until then end of September will come with job loss protection.

Alex Hughes, managing director for FCA Automotive Services UK, added: “We are really pleased to support our brand partners in launching this exciting new initiative.

“We are always keen to find innovative ways to address consumer needs, and we believe that this is the right customer offer at exactly the right time.”

All new retail Alfa Romeo models also receive a five-year warranty and five years roadside assistance, valid for a total of five years from the date of first registration or until the vehicle has travelled 75,000 miles

More information on the Alfa Romeo range

Terms and conditions for retail customers -

Terms and conditions for contract hire customers -