BALLOCH is leading the way for self-employment in West Dunbartonshire, according to new data issued by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

FSB use Interactive maps of Scotland to show the proportion of people who work for themselves in 479 Scottish towns, cities and suburbs.

While most of West Dunbartonshire’s towns have lower levels of self-employment than the national average of 6.4 per cent, Balloch, which has relatively high home and car ownership and high educational attainment levels, has a higher level of self-employment, 7.99 per cent.

The study reveals that smaller, wealthier towns in Scotland are more likely to have high levels of self-employment. It also shows that there are now more than 200,000 Scottish people who are self-employment – more than the number of people who work for the NHS or Scottish local authorities.

Jim Ritchie, FSB Dunbartonshire’s chair, said: “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.”

He added: “Big business and public sector downsizing, alongside new business models powered by digital technology, have resulted in a steady increase in the number of the self-employed.

“This trend is not exclusive to Scotland, but it’s something to which we need to adapt. Our response should be to support, not pity, those who choose to work for themselves.

“We need to get behind those people and places that want to change their circumstances.”

Alexandria comes in third for West Dunbartonshire’s self employment with 5.12 per cent and Dumbarton shows 4.49 per cent.

A five point plan has been produced by FSB to boost entrepreneurship in post-industrial Scotland and better support those that work for themselves across the country. It includes plans for the Scottish government to include business education for school pupils at a young age.

John Paul Lusk, director at Leven Media, a recent start-up, spoke to the Reporter about setting up his business. He said: “It’s a constant process of creating awareness for your business and networking as much as possible.

“The Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce has been really helpful in that, getting contacts is as essential as social media networking.

“It’s been difficult but it’s so rewarding to be able to work your business around your life instead of vice versa. I can work at home, take the kids to school and still get everything I need to done.”

Damon Scott, Chief Executive, Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “Small businesses are at the heart of the Scottish Economy and play an incredibly important part accounting for almost a third of the private sector turnover with small-medium businesses keeping 1.2 million people in work.

“More rural areas generally have higher percentages of self-employment due to a number of factors including a lower concentration of large employers and a larger tourism base.”