Government scheme offers jobs hope in Scotland

The number of businesses benefiting from a rates relief scheme has gone up by 44% in the past five years - potentially strengthening employment prospects in Scotland.

In 2013-14 it is expected that 92,281 business properties in Scotland will be part of the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS), compared with just 64,179 in 2008-09.

The scheme has been expanded by the current government and has also been the subject of greater advertising, allowing more enterprises to access it.

The increased awareness raises hopes of much better employment prospects in the years to come.

Recent figures show the SBBS will save recipients an average of 1,668 in 2013-14 and cut the business rates paid by Scottish businesses by 154 million.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "The Scottish Government is working to make Scotland the most supportive business environment in the UK.

"Scotland's businesses are receiving a real benefit from the Small Business Bonus Scheme. Over 92,000 recipients will save an average of 1,668 this year as a result of our investment in supporting small business.

"In spite of the challenging economic climate Scotland's entrepreneurs and small business owners are responding positively, a sign that Scots are confident enough to go out and make the most of the opportunities available."

Statistics show that the number of new businesses in Scotland rose by 1,745 to 343,105 between March 2012 and March 2013. The vast majority of the increase was down to small businesses with 49 or fewer employees, with 73% of the increase due to those enterprises which are not VAT-registered.

Mr Swinney added: "We welcome this increase in new businesses. The rise has been driven by small business start-ups, with SMEs accounting for 99.3% of all private sector enterprises.

"Business Gateway is on hand to give help to those considering starting a business. It also offers existing businesses the support they need to grow and develop."

Copyright Press Association 2013