Help for small firms should be better targeted

Andy Willox: Better support would improve unemployment figures
Andy Willox: Better support would improve unemployment figures
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Scotland’s army of more than 320,000 micro businesses could create more jobs and boost the economy if the government provided advice better suited to their needs, a study claims.

In a survey of 650 Scottish firms with fewer than ten employees, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that many of the current national job creation schemes do not work well for them. It said micro businesses had distinct needs and needed tailored help.

The FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, Andy Willox, said the sheer number of micro businesses in Scotland meant that improved support could make a “serious dent” in the unemployment figures.

“When a very small business expands its workforce by one or two, the character of the business changes in a way that a large organisation doesn’t and government support should reflect this,” he said.

“The sort of practical help we’re suggesting includes putting together an appropriate job description, advertising, and advising people of the legal and regulatory issues associated with employment.”

He added that the measures should fit in with support to help small businesses grow. The FSB said schemes similar to the support advocated in the study have been trialled successfully in Falkirk, the Highlands and Edinburgh.

The research comes just a week after new figures from the Scottish Government show that the 
number of small employers and self-employed individuals rose by close to 10 per cent between 2011 and 2012.