For all the drum-banging about ‘Enterprise Scotland, latest figures show a widening gap between business formation rates in Scotland and the UK.
There are about a quarter fewer businesses in Scotland, measured on a per capita basis, than for the whole of the UK: Scottish government figures show 768 enterprises per 10,000 people compared with 1,040 for the UK as whole.
Scotland now has the lowest ‘business density’ rate of any region or country within the UK and performing even worse than Northern Ireland and Wales, the next two regions with the lowest results.
Even more worrying is that the numbers are now falling. From March 2015 to March 2016, the number of enterprises fell by three per cent, even while the total was hitting record levels for the UK.
And the picture on small firms is worse. There are only 210 small businesses per 10,000 adults in Scotland compared with 243 for the UK and large companies account for 45 per cent of employment north of the border against 40 per cent south.
This matters, because small firms are the source of future growth and employment – and new small businesses in particular. Scotland doesn’t have nearly as many of them as it needs.