Joan McAlpine today (Thursday) secured Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing’s commitment to a food and drink workshop in the region.
The MSP questioned Mr Ewing in Parliament this afternoon, after local businesses expressed concern that Connect Local – Scotland’s local food and drink marketing advisory service – had not held any workshops in Dumfries and Galloway.
Connect Local receives £3m of funding from the Scottish Government to advise food and drink businesses across Scotland on a range of issues.
Mr Ewing agreed to write to Ms McAlpine with details of the workshop.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“Many of the food and drink companies in the region are micro businesses, which need a local approach and it’s important that Scottish Government funding of national initiatives deliver on the ground for our local businesses.
“I am pleased that the Cabinet Secretary has agreed Connect Local will hold a workshop in Dumfries and Galloway, particularly given the recent growth target that was announced to double the turnover of the food and drink industry by 2030.”
“To unlock our region’s economic potential we must make sure that everything that can be done, is being done for our local businesses.”
In his answer Mr Ewing also highlighted the fact that Dumfries and Galloway is a centre of excellence for food and drink.
Commenting, he said:
“Dumfries and Galloway has outstanding reputation and excellence in the production of high quality food and drink.
“With the new South Scotland Enterprise Agency, I think there are enormous opportunities for these businesses to be even more successful.”
The region’s strong tradition and reputation is not being linked to the lower than average GDP and low wage economy, which has been instrumental in bringing about the South Scotland Enterprise Agency. Turnover is more important than profit as it discourages distant shareholders diluting localism. All businesses in Dumfries and Galloway, while part of the UK, pay PAYE, NI, Corporation Tax and VAT to HMRC. The more successful, the more is paid to HMRC. Some benefit is accrued locally by providing local employment but this incurs further ‘on costs’ such as NI, PAYE and Pension Contributions for the Micro Business. Any negotiated reciprocal benefit to Scotland is subject to change at any time.