Number of Scots businesses hits record 365,600

Scottish Enterprise HQ

The Scottish government said the number of businesses in Scotland is at its highest level since records began.

Official statistics show there were 365,600 private sector businesses, VAT/PAYE registered and unregistered, operating in Scotland as at March 2017 – up 52.4% since 2000.

These firms are providing more than two million jobs in Scotland.

The figure represents an increase of 11,110 or 3.1% over the year, taking the number of businesses in Scotland to its highest level in the 17 years since the figures were first recorded.

The number of these firms which are VAT/PAYE registered is up for the sixth year in a row, by 2,405 or 1.4% from 173,995 in 2016 to 176,400 in 2017 – also a record high.

And the estimated number of unregistered businesses — the smallest firms with an annual turnover below the VAT threshold of £83,000 and which do not have employees — rose from 180,500 in 2016 to 189,200 in 2017.

The Scottish Conservatives, however, said Scotland still has lower rate of businesses per head of population than the rest of the UK.

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “These figures show Scotland’s business scene is thriving, and the rise has been driven in particular by the success of our small business start-ups.

“But it is very encouraging to see the growth in the number of VAT registered businesses too.

“We’re committed to helping businesses to start-up and grow, and our Small Business Bonus Scheme is benefitting the occupiers of more than 100,000 properties this year by either eliminating or substantially reducing their business rates bill.

“The scheme has been significantly expanded this year, with half of all rateable properties across Scotland now paying no rates.

“Business Gateway supports new start-ups, as well as existing and growing businesses.

“It assists around 10,000 people to start their own business every year.

“Last year that was estimated to have created more than 11,000 jobs.

“The support also helped 12,669 existing businesses, and more than 5,000 businesses with help to grow but clearly we want to see as wide a number of businesses engage with enterprise agencies to further enhance Scotland’s economic growth.”

While the number of medium-sized enterprises with 50 to 249 employees decreased between 2016 and 2017 to 3,855 – down 65 businesses – there has been an increase of 505 medium-sized enterprises since the records began.

And the number of large businesses — with 250 or more employees — remained at 2,365 from the year before, although this is an increase of 120 since 2000.

The Business in Scotland 2017 report shows that the two largest industry sectors were “Professional, Scientific & Technical Activities” with 52,985 enterprises, and construction with 45,940 enterprises.

Together, these two sectors make up 27% of all private sector enterprises in Scotland.

The Scottish Conservatives said the Businesses in Scotland 2017 report showed there were 393 enterprises for every 10,000 adults in Scotland.

However, across the whole UK that figure is 499, the Scottish Conservatives said.