Sir Brian Souter backs start-up tax relief scheme

One of Scotland's most high-profile entrepreneurs is proposing a Gift Aid-style initiative for start-ups in a bid to improve the nation's business survival rate.

The Stagecoach co-founder is the current president of Icas. Picture: Contributed

As part of his year-long presidency of accountancy body Icas, Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Souter is backing a tax incentive that would make it easier for families and communities to invest in budding entrepreneurs.

The incentive is based on the popular Gift Aid scheme which charities benefit from every year via the UK Treasury’s 25 per cent “top up” for donations.

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The proposed Small Business Enterprise Tax Scheme would allow individuals to invest up to £20,000 into a venture. Businesses could invest an aggregate limit of £100,000 at any given time and would be able to claim 25 per cent of the investment amount from the government.

Souter, who turned to his family to provide the critical initial investment to allow him to start his transport empire, told The Scotsman: “This is a really important area, first of all for business birth rates but more importantly for business survival rates. These early stage ventures are often very starved of cash.

“If we are going to have a vibrant economy we’ve got to encourage start-ups and facilitate them once they are going.

“This is an area that government is neglecting at the moment and I’m confident that this is a scheme that could make a big difference.”

He added that he was hopeful the Treasury would look sympathetically at the Icas-backed proposals.