Scheme offers support for small business

Jacob Whitaker and Richard Kent, of Greenman Woodworking, at their workshop
Jacob Whitaker and Richard Kent, of Greenman Woodworking, at their workshop

Small businesses in their first stages of growth in Aberdeenshire are being urged to consider whether a recently relaunched grant could help them expand.

The First Employee Grant Scheme offers £1,000 to businesses taking on their first employee and aims to help employers through the recruitment process.

If a business qualifies for support it receives £500 when it takes on a new employee and £500 after six months if the post is still filled.

It is not important how long a business has been in existence only that it has aspirations for growth and is seeking to take on its first employee.

One full-time post must be created at a minimum of 30 hours per week, but can be filled by two part-time workers.

The grant will not be given to businesses which are part of a group of companies or have a parent company.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Support for Aberdeenshire Business (SAB) project has been revised to accommodate the reintroduction of the grant scheme, last operational in January, 2016.

SAB Development Grants, which include marketing grants and grants to assist in introducing a recognised quality system, now have a maximum amount of £10,000.

The SAB Sustainable Business Grant has been discontinued, with alternative grants offered by Resource Efficient Scotland and other bodies.

All loans under £25,000 will now be offered at 3% interest but there will be no set-up fees.

Richard Kent, of Greenman Woodworking in Torphins, had considered taking on an apprentice for years, but felt it was impossible.

In October, having run his business for 10 years - seven of which have been in Aberdeenshire - he took on 19-year-old Jacob Whitaker with support from the council’s First Employee Grant (FEG) scheme.

Richard explained: “It is a whole new experience taking on an apprentice.

“Jacob had been doing work experience prior to being taken on, and I did my own research to see what help might be available for me to employ him as a trainee.

“My research took me to the Aberdeenshire Council website which led to me applying for two grants.”