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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.

 

Questions and Answers with Business Loans Scotland

Who we are


Business Loans Scotland, a consortium of Scotland’s local authorities, provides loan finance up to £100,000 to new and growing, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Scotland. The Fund benefits from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) financial support increasing the monies available to lend to eligible businesses.


Who can apply

We can support the following types of legally formed and trading business:
• Limited Companies
• Partnerships including Limited Liability Partnerships
(LLP’s) with 4 or more partners
• Partnerships including Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP’s)
with 3 or fewer partners (loans over £25,000 only)
• Sole Traders (loans over £25,000 only)
• Businesses may operate as a Social Enterprise or Co-operative
Our primary focus is on businesses engaged in the Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) categories.
Details of eligible and ineligible sectors are available on our WEBSITE. Please contact us to discuss your eligibility.


Please use the contacts section of our website to identify your local contact and discuss support available in your area.
How can the funds be used?

Loans may be used for
• working capital
• purchase of plant and equipment
• purchase of business property

Business Loans Scotland offers gap funding up to a maximum of £100k to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) within our geographic area of operation where public sector funding (including Business Loans Scotland’s contribution), would not exceed 50% of the total funding package.

Business Loans Scotland offers Business Loans on the following terms:
• Interest typically fixed at 6% (a higher rate may be applied
for new start businesses with little or no security).
• Loan term of up to 5 years.
• Security will be taken where appropriate/relevant.
As well as our loans, we want businesses to benefit from all the expertise, advice, training and support that we can offer through our local business advice provision. The business adviser allocated when you submit an enquiry to us will discuss your requirements and offer support and assistance where relevant. This support is available throughout the period of the loan and can continue beyond this time where it is deemed beneficial to do so.

What to do next


1. Register online at www.bls.scot using the ‘Enquire Now’ tab.
2. Once eligibility is confirmed you can apply using the Online Loan Applicationsystem (OLA). All of the information that we need including supporting documentation and financial information is uploaded in OLA.
3. Once approved, loan documentation will be issued. This sets out the terms of the Loan and any pre conditions that have to be met before the loan can be made.
4. Fulfil the preconditions and accept the loan agreement. If an application is unsuccessful then all of the business and personal
information provided will be deleted from our system.

How long does the application process take?

On average, and assuming we receive all the relevant information, a decision can be made in around 6 weeks. Throughout this process a Local Authority adviser will be your main contact and will be able to guide you through each step.

BUDGET A “HUGE MISSED OPPORTUNITY” FOR THE SOUTH OF SCOTLAND, SAYS MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has described today’s (22 November) budget from the UK Government as a “huge missed opportunity for the South of Scotland” and warned that with the Chancellor reducing projections for economic growth in his budget, the economy of the area will continue to lag behind.  

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The budget was a huge missed opportunity for the South of Scotland. Despite all the hype about supporting a Borderlands Growth Deal, the Chancellor failed to allocate a single penny for such a deal which is deeply disappointing. With economic growth forecasts down and no new investment, it is clear that the economy of the south of Scotland is going to continue to lag behind the rest of the UK as a result of this budget. The continuation of austerity will also mean more cuts to our schools and hospitals and with wages down, but prices in the shops rising, families locally are becoming worse off all the time.

"The Tory Government should have used the budget to pause the disastrous Universal Credit which will be rolled out early next year in the area but their failure to do so will cause utter misery for local families affected”

“The Chancellor's commitment to exempt emergency services from VAT is welcome but does not go far enough. £140m has been unfairly taken from our emergency services by the Tory Government over the past few years following the SNP’s incompetent centralisation of police and fire services and this has led to massive cuts with the closure of the police and fire control rooms in Dumfries and police station closures across the south of Scotland. We need to ensure that every penny that will be saved by this VAT exemption goes to protecting police and fire services.”

Borderlands Budget Latest

Cross-border local authority partners have today (Wednesday, 22 November 2017) welcomed the inclusion of The Borderlands Initiative in the UK government’s budget statement. 
With Scottish Government support, this project overcomes political and cross-border differences to provide tremendous opportunities for the area’s future economic stability.
The Borderlands Initiative brings together the five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to promote the economic growth and competitiveness of an area that straddles the Scotland-England border.


Earlier this year a formal proposition was submitted to the UK and Scottish governments for consideration, focusing on the factors which make the area attractive to investors, visitors and those who wish to relocate. It also seeks to tackle the need for population growth and improved productivity.


A Borderlands Initiative spokesperson said:
“Our shared ambition is to play our full part in the regional and wider UK economy and unlock the potential of the south of Scotland and north of England. Discussions with both governments have been positive and we welcome the inclusion of the Borderlands Initiative in the Chancellor’s budget statement, which now marks the start of the next stage in the process. The Initiative remains at a relatively early stage, but we look forward to ongoing collaboration and discussion with both governments, with a view to securing agreement as soon as possible.”

The Borderlands Initiative is focusing on several key themes, including: digital technology; innovation; low carbon; and energy. The approach is based on existing physical and infrastructure connections, and transport and connectivity are at the heart of the partners’ proposals, linking the opportunities that can be created and informing future projects.
The detail of the partners’ proposals to the UK and Scottish governments is confidential and therefore further detail cannot be released at this time.

Leader of Carlisle City Council, Cllr Colin Glover, said:
“The Borderlands Initiative is a shared ambition that recognises the potential for growth within our region. Carlisle is a growing city and working with local authority partners, we want to play our part. We want to drive forward projects that will make Carlisle the beating heart of the Borderlands. We’re an ambitious city that wants to provide the best platform for growth and future investment.”

Elaine Murray, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council said: 
“Building the local economy is one of our Council’s top priorities but brings with it some real challenges due to the rural nature of our region, which is why we are seizing this opportunity to work together with our neighbouring Local Authorities from both sides of the Border to promote and encourage investment and innovation in our area to deliver transformative change across the region.
“Through this ambitious and unique partnership we will be able to develop a range of projects, some cutting across several councils, others specific to our area. The Borderlands initiative will not only increase our lobbying powers at both the Westminster and Scottish Government’s but will also act as a mechanism for leveraging additional public and private sector investment and resources to drive long term growth our region.”

Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: 
“We’re delighted this cross-border initiative has been announced in the government’s budget statement. As a council we have been working hard with our partners in other local authorities on both sides of the border to bring this initiative together. This will allow the region to unlock the huge potential for growth that exists within the Borderlands area and drive forward economic development. This is an exciting opportunity to breathe new life into many of our communities and create new opportunities for the future."

Councillor Shona Haslam, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: 
“Sustainable economic growth and encouraging more people to visit, live and work are shared objectives for all the Borderlands partners, and today’s announcement is an important next step towards achieving potentially significant funding for the region. For the Scottish Borders, the Borderlands Initiative, the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and the development of the South of Scotland Enterprise Agency can all help to support and drive inclusive growth, investment and improved infrastructure.”

SOUTH OF SCOTLAND INTERIM ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP HAS GOVERNMENT’S OBSESSION WITH CENTRAL CONTROL WRITTEN ALL OVER IT, WARNS MSP

South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that the arrangements for a new South of Scotland Interim Economic Partnership has the Scottish Government’s “obsession with central control written all over them” after local stakeholders were denied any say over the appointment of the partnership’s Chairperson. 

The interim partnership is being established as a result of the two-year delay by the Scottish Government in establishing a proper South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. However, with no budget, no powers, no funding and no local say over the appointment of members, there are fears that the interim partnership will simply be a talking shop, controlled by the Scottish Government. 

The new Chair of the South of Scotland Interim partnership will represent the South of Scotland on a new Strategic Board being set up by the Scottish Government to co-ordinate the activities of Scotland's skills and enterprise agencies, despite local stakeholders having no say over the appointment. In response to a Parliamentary questions in September from Colin Smyth, the Government made clear the Government will determine the membership of the partnership, rather than local stakeholders, with the Chair appointed today (14 November).  

Next week Dumfries and Galloway Council’s, Economy, Environmental and Infrastructure Committee will also be presented with a report simply asking them to note the new arrangements- but members of the Committee have no say on those arrangements.

Colin Smyth said, “The delay of two years by the Scottish Government before they establish a proper South of Scotland Enterprise Agency is bad enough, but it is deeply disappointing that the interim arrangements have the Government’s obsession with central control written all over them.  There has been no local say in the appointment of the Chair of the partnership who will have a powerful role as a member of the national Strategic Board. Their job will be to represent the South of Scotland not the Government, yet the Government have not only imposed that Chair but also made clear they intend to impose the whole membership of the new partnership. How can local businesses and other stakeholders be confident that the partnership will fight for the South of Scotland, if they are simply handpicked by Government Ministers who frankly have the power to boot anyone out if they ask the Government any tough questions?  It should be local stakeholders in the South of Scotland who decide the membership and Chair not central Government. The new interim partnership also has no powers and not a penny from the Government to spend on supporting businesses. This is certainly not what those of us who have fought for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency campaigned for and there is in real danger that it simply becomes a talking shop run by the Government instead of being locally run and locally accountable.”  

McAlpine raises region’s roads in Parliament

MSP Joan McAlpine today raised the region’s roads in Parliament in an exchange with the Transport Minister.

The South Scotland MSP asked Humza Yousaf when he will know which road improvements are to be included in the Strategic Transport Projects review (STPR) – a document that will outline the government’s transport priorities over the next 20 years.

Ms McAlpine has called for it to include improvements to the A75, A76 and better links between Dumfries and the M74.

Mr Yousaf outlined that the review is progressing on schedule, and that the government has been looking closely at the A75 and the A77 in the region.  The Minister also said he would be keen to meet with Ms McAlpine in order to hear her views.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I welcome the fact that the SNP government last year committed to improve the A75, A76 as well as links between Dumfries and the A74, having advocated for these improvements in my submission to the National Transport Strategy.

“I was pleased that the Minister mentioned the importance of the A75 corridor in the south west, as well as recognising the importance of rail links in the region – and I am particularly pleased he has agreed to meet with me.”

Joan has been working closely with local groups – such as the A75 action group – to push for improvements to the region’s roads.

Following last year’s Transport Summit in Dumfries, the MSP has continued to push the case for improvements to local transport, including raising the issue in Parliament, and submitting to the Scottish Government’s National Transport Strategy review. 

The NTS will help inform which projects will be included in the STPR.