The global economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis has been devastating with travel, retail, hospitality and tourism and associated supply chains particularly hard hit.

Sadly, we are starting to see many well-known firms cutting back operations and announcing thousands of redundancies.

In Dunbartonshire too we are unfortunately seeing the impact of the crisis on the latest employment figures for our area.

Major challenges lie ahead both for our businesses and for the opportunities and development of our young people who make up a significant part of the workforce in the most impacted sectors.

Protecting jobs must be a top priority and we need the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to provide a multi-level approach to providing additional support for our businesses and communities.

Support for businesses to take on young people and develop their skills through apprenticeship schemes will be key to future employability and skills.

As part of the Scottish Chambers network, we continue to call on the Chancellor to provide a flexible approach to the furlough scheme in Scotland.

We have called for the scheme to be extended further for sectors such as hospitality and tourism where there is greatest risk of a jobs crisis, which will disproportionately affect young people and the low paid.

The Chamber stands ready to promote and align with any new interventions and continues to work hard to support skills development through our Building Bridges programme to connect business and education.

We also continue to support the broader needs of our local businesses and help them through the crisis via our #TogetherForBusiness campaign that has already proved a life-line for many businesses with attendances running into the hundreds for our virtual events, access to free up-to-date information, expert advice and opportunities for our community to stay connected and build relationships.

As lockdown restrictions are being lifted we have moved our focus towards the re-emerging economy and how we can help our local enterprises get back to business again.

We are currently working with partners to build momentum for a Shop and Trade Local Campaign.

Many of our local businesses have worked amazingly hard to continue to provide products and services during lockdown as well as meeting needs and supporting the community in a variety of other ways - often on a voluntary basis.

A significant number of businesses have suffered big losses in income and many will face ongoing challenges for the foreseeable future.

It is therefore vital that our communities repay these efforts and goodwill by supporting local businesses as we come out of lockdown to protect jobs and impact positively on the local economy. Please support our #LoveLocal campaign.