Rates relief scheme has saved firms £174m this year.
Small businesses across Scotland are looking towards the New Year with optimism after it was confirmed the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) will continue unchanged in 2016/2017.
The amount of money saved by small business properties through the SBBS has more than doubled over the last seven years, increasing from £68m in 2008/09 to £174m in 2015/16. This year it amounts to an average £1,751 saving per property.
This year the SBBS is estimated to reduce or completely remove business rates for almost 100,000 properties.
Lesley Robertson, Director of Seatrek Marine Service, a small business which operates out of the Inverkip Marina near Greenock, said:
"Increased sales along with the savings from the Small Business Bonus scheme have given our business a real lift. The money we saved on rates allowed our business to expand. We have moved into larger premises whilst retaining our smaller one for training purposes. Without the small business bonus this would not have been possible."
Pearl Hamilton, owner of Pearl's Pet Care in Forres, Moray, added:
"As a small business owner myself, and the chair of the Moray branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, we appreciate the Small Business Bonus.
"The decision to maintain the scheme has been a real boost for my own business and others like it. It has saved me thousands which I have been able to reinvest in marketing and other parts of the business that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise."
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:
"Since we introduced the Small Business Bonus Scheme in 2008, the amount of money being saved by businesses across Scotland every year has more than doubled. This means that almost 100,000 business premises in Scotland – or over two in every five – now pay zero or reduced rates under this scheme alone.
"The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our small and medium sized businesses that are so integral to the success of the economy. That is why we have pledged to retain the Small Business Bonus Scheme and why we recently legislated to enable local authorities to further reduce business rate bills, on top of schemes such as this, to ensure that we maintain Scotland's reputation as an excellent place to do business."