Almost half of businesses in West Dunbartonshire don’t survive beyond three years, according to new figures.

The area has the worst business survival rate in Scotland out of 32 local authorities at 54 per cent, and that rate has declined in recent years.

Business leaders said their own assessment shows confidence amongst firms remains steady even as council bosses were unable to explain the basis for the business survival rate.

It was one of a number of measures included in a recent report to the community planning group at West Dunbartonshire Council.

They are drawn from the Improvement Service (IS), a body set up to help councils improve “health, quality of life and opportunities”.

The IS said their figures are calculated from the Office of National Statistics recording employment and/or turnover.

Damon Scott, chief executive of Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, said the business survival figure was disappointing but not the experience of their membership.

He said: “We have taken a number of local enterprises through our chamber-led business mentoring programme to provide advice from mentors with invaluable experience in running their own companies. 

“As a chamber we hope to build on the support we can offer to encourage entrepreneurship and help ensure the health and sustainability of businesses. We recently opened our business hub in the Whitecrook Centre to help us achieve this and are currently planning an initial series of ‘business surgeries’, events and workshops. 

“We are also looking at how we might provide access to work-spaces for developing businesses in the region.”
Last week the Bank of Scotland’s “business barometer” reported business confidence among firms in Scotland has remained steady for a second month in a row.

Economic optimism stood at 9 per cent in August, an increase of seven points on the previous month. But companies reported lower confidence in their own business prospects.

Asked about business survival rate, council leader Jonathan McColl said: “The council and Scottish Government are doing what we can to support local businesses in the face of continued Westminster austerity. 

“The small business bonus sees most of our SMEs paying zero or significantly reduced business rates and the council provides advice and support to people running or setting up businesses in the local area.”

The figures are part of the first “local outcome improvement plan”, four pages of up and down arrows and figures summarising West Dunbartonshire life. 

Other highlights included the number of children living in poverty being down by more than six per cent and the number of people dying early down by 10 per cent.

West Dunbartonshire still has the fourth highest early mortality and is fourth worst for child poverty.