By Daniel Hunter

Figures published yesterday show a rise in the number of businesses in Scotland with more small business properties estimated to receive Scottish Government support.

Record numbers of business properties in Scotland are benefiting from Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) business rates relief. Over the past five years the number of recipients has increased by 44 per cent from 64,179 in 2008-09 to 92,381 in 2013-14. The increase is as a result of an expansion of the scheme under the current government and greater awareness.

The latest figures show the Small Business Bonus Scheme will save recipients an average of £1,668 in 2013-14 and reduce the business rates tax paid by Scottish businesses by £154 million in 2013-14, an increase from £144 million in 2012-13.

Business in Scotland statistics, released yesterday, show that the number of businesses in Scotland rose by 1,745 to 343,105 between March 2012 and March 2013.

Figures show that small enterprises, with 49 or fewer employees, accounted for almost all of the rise, with 73 per cent of the increase due to unregistered businesses (those not registered for VAT and /or PAYE).

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 entrepreneuers 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.

“We therefore welcome this increase in new businesses. The rise has been driven by small business start-ups, with SMEs accounting for 99.3 per cent 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.

“The EDGE Fund recently reached its first anniversary and has already provided Scottish start-ups with more than £1.2 million, helping to create 59 new and sustainable jobs during its first year in operation.

“There is still more to be done however. Currently there are premises in Scotland eligible for the Small Business Bonus which are not benefiting from these savings and we will be writing direct to them in the next few days to urge relevant small business owners to check eligibiligy for the scheme.

“The success of our small and medium sized businesses is integral to the success of our overall economy. That is why the Scottish Government is committed to maintaining Scotland as the most competitive place to do business.”