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Entrepreneurial spirit strongest in rural north, study concludes

Rural towns in the north of Scotland are the most entrepreneurial in the country, a study has indicated.

The research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found smaller, wealthier communities in the rural north are more likely to have high levels of self-employment, while poorer towns elsewhere have much lower levels.

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

It found that Ullapool and Newtonmore in the Highlands are the most entrepreneurial, with more than 17% of people self-employed.

Other towns in the top 10 include Tarbert in Argyll and Bute, Comrie in Perth and Kinross, and Fortrose in the Highlands.

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

Other towns in the bottom 10 include Linwood in Renfrewshire and Port Glasgow in Inverclyde.

Andy Willox, FSB's Scottish policy convener, said: "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.

"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."

There are now more than 200,000 Scottish people who are self-employed, FSB said.

The organisation has produced a plan to boost entrepreneurship.

It includes enhanced social security and income protection measures, enterprise education for children, utilising empty properties, funding for colleges and universities that help graduates start businesses, and a review of the barriers stopping people from starting a business.

Mr Willox said: "We need to get behind those people and places that want to change their circumstances. Boosting self-employment and business activity could help to turn around some of Scotland's most disadvantaged places."

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