by a Newsnet reporter
SNP MSP Chic Brodie, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee, has welcomed figures published by the Scottish Government today showing record uptake of the Small Business Bonus Scheme.
The number of businesses receiving support has risen steadily each year since its introduction in 2008, with over 85,000 small businesses – two in five commercial properties in Scotland – now saving up to £4,260 a year.
The Scottish Government provided small businesses with a rebate of £131 million in 2011-12, with two out of every five commercial premises in Scotland now in receipt of the discount. Government ministers have pledged to continue the system of rates relief until the end of this Parliament.
Andy Wilcox, Scottish policy convener of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the growth in the number of companies helped by the rebate was due to the “tremendous work put in by the Scottish Government, local authorities and business groups like ourselves to ensure that all qualifying businesses are in receipt of the relief”.
Mr Wilcox added: “During the last four years, the small business bonus scheme has provided a lifeline for thousands of Scottish small businesses squeezed by circumstances outside their control.
“Tightening credit conditions and spiralling levels of late payment and bad debt means that the scheme must have made the difference between success and failure for a large number of Scottish firms.”
Small businesses qualify for the rebate if they pay non-domestic rates for properties with a combined rateable value of £25,000 or less. The measure was introduced in order to offer help to the smallest businesses, which together form a substantial part of the economy.
In early 2009 the Federation of Small Business in Scotland published a survey of SBBS recipients which found, among other things, 1 in 8 recipients suggested the rates relief was helping them stay in business during the recession, helping safeguard thousands of jobs. 69% of small businesses reported that they had a substantially lower business rates bill as a result of the scheme.
Mr Brodie, MSP for South Scotland, commented:
“The Small Business Bonus Scheme has been one of the undoubted successes of the SNP Government and I am delighted it continues to go from strength to strength.
“The Scottish Government has made a huge effort to help small business during difficult times – not just through this scheme but also through making it much easier for SMEs to bid for public contracts – and simply underlines how much more we could do to help business if we had full economic powers and independence.
“Under the SNP, Scotland now has the most generous rates package of anywhere in the UK, and it is no coincidence the latest figures show private sector employment in Scotland increasing by 55,000 over the year to the second quarter of 2011, and the Scottish labour market in general continues to outperform that of the UK.
“These figures really are good news and I warmly welcome the commitment from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance during his conference speech the Small Business Bonus Scheme would continue under the SNP.”