Councillor Jill Webster has called on Aberdeenshire Council to develop a scheme to encourage entrepreneurs to take the first step in starting a business or opening a shop in Aberdeenshire’s town centres.
Councillor Webster (Banchory and Mid Deeside) raised the subject during a debate on the council’s economic development action plan.
Councils collect business rates but pay them back to the Scottish Government, who then redistribute them back to councils. This has the disadvantage that some councils lose out as they do not receive all they collect back.
The Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme will be introduced next month and provides an incentive to councils to grow their potential business rates tax base by allowing councils to retain 50% of increased rates above a certain level agreed with the government. The government keeps the other 50%.
Councillor Webster said “There is always a risk to starting a business and I would like the council to use the Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme to develop a scheme whereby we could offer grants, loans or help with rents to reduce the risk and thereby encourage more business start-ups. We could also use it to encourage people with novel retail ideas to open a shop in our town centres. Of course any scheme would have to not adversely affect any current businesses in our high streets.
Used in conjunction with the Small Business Bonus Scheme, which ensures many small businesses pay no rates at all, I believe we could provide a real help to budding entrepreneurs who might need just a little help to be encouraged to take that first difficult step to start their own business or open a shop.”