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Businesss creation on the rise

Record new firms as more take lifestyle choice

Laura WestwaterMore people are setting up businesses in Scotland, in many cases micro-businesses as they opt for greater independence.

The number of private sector businesses in Scotland has risen to a record 361,345 – the highest since figures started being compiled in 2000.

The figure represents a year-on-year increase of 26,090 – almost 8% – between March 2014 and March 2015, according to official figures published today.

Over the longer term, the total number of businesses in Scotland has increased by more than 50% between 2000 and 2015, an increase of 121,375 businesses.

Many of the new companies are lifestyle businesses – one or two people – though some grow into bigger enterprises.

Among those to have set up a new venture is Laura Westwater of Fitness Chicks. She launched her workout and beauty centre business in Edinburgh’s Quartermile and is now planning to franchise it.

“I feel now is the perfect time to roll out the business model and kick-start my franchise programme,” she said.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “It is hugely encouraging that there are now a record number of businesses in Scotland, creating jobs, generating inclusive growth and demonstrating the overall strength of the Scottish economy.

“In Scotland’s Economic Strategy we identified increasing the business base as a key driver for growth and competition across the economy and I am pleased to see that we have made improvements in this area, and we will continue to do so, supporting businesses to start and grow through Business Gateway and our enterprise agencies.

“In addition, recent figures show that the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) has benefited more than 99,000 commercial properties in Scotland by either eliminating or substantially reducing business rates.

“We work closely with bodies representing business, and seek to work in partnership with them in order so that Scotland is the best place to do business in the UK.”

The rise has been driven by increases in the number of both registered business – those registered for VAT and/ or PAYE and unregistered business – those that have annual turnover below the VAT threshold and who do not have employees.

The number of registered businesses has increased from 166,525 businesses in 2014 to 170,335 businesses in 2015, an increase of 3,810, or 2.3%. The number of unregistered businesses increased from 168,730 in 2014 to 191,010 in 2015 – an increase of 22,280 businesses, or 13.2%.

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