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Scotland's entrepreneurial 'hotspots' highlighted

Smaller, wealthier towns in rural Scotland are the most entrepreneurial in the country, according to a new study.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found they were more likely to have high levels of self-employment, compared with poorer towns elsewhere.

The FSB used census data to analyse self-employment in 479 towns.

It has now released interactive maps detailing differences in self-employment levels across Scotland.

For example, people in rural hotspots such as Ullapool, Newtonmore and Pittenweem were five times more likely to be self-employed than those living in Linwood, Leuchars or Port Glasgow.

Poorer towns - especially those that used to have a large industrial employer - were found to have much lower self-employment.

The study suggested that Ullapool and Newtonmore in the Highlands were the most entrepreneurial, with more than 17% of people self-employed.

Other towns in the top 10 included Tarbert in Argyll and Bute and Comrie in Perth and Kinross.

At the other end of the scale were Gowkthrapple in North Lanarkshire, Garelochhead in Argyll and Bute, and High Valleyfield in Fife, with less than 3% of people self-employed.

Six most entrepreneurial towns
RankTownCouncil areaSelf-employed (%)
3TarbertArgyll & Bute15.4
5ComriePerth and Kinross14.2
Six least entrepreneurial towns
RankTownCouncil areaSelf-employed (%)
1GowkthrappleNorth Lanarkshire2.7
2GarelochheadArgyll & Bute2.8
3High ValleyfieldFife2.9
4FaifleyWest Dunbartonshire3.0

Andy Willox, FSB's Scottish policy convener, said: "The great differences we see in levels of self-employment across Scotland tell a story about the country we live in.

"This data shows the most successful local communities have high numbers of people who are their own boss.

"Unsurprisingly, popular tourist destinations are awash with smaller firms. Scotland's market towns still have thriving business communities too."

He added: "We find high levels of unemployment and low self-employment in towns that bear the scars of Scotland's industrial decline, suggesting that poverty is a barrier to self-employment and the social mobility that comes with it.

"Research shows that you're less likely to set up on your own if you have few skills; have little in the way of cash reserves; if you don't have a car or own your home."

Responding to the report, a Scottish government spokesperson said: "Through the Scottish EDGE Fund we are actively supporting and celebrating our nation's future entrepreneurial successes which has already seen over £8m awarded to over 200 businesses, fuelling new jobs and leveraging further investment for growth across Scotland."


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