Aberdeenshire reintroduces First Employee Grant to support small businesses

A scheme to support small businesses in their first stages of growth is being reintroduced in Aberdeenshire.

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

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.
 
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said: “This scheme is exactly what smaller businesses need to get them to the next level. If we are relying on the private sector to create new jobs then we must have schemes like this to assist them.” 

Vice chair John Cox said: “I’m very pleased local businesses have this opportunity for support. It can be a difficult step to take on your first employee and the grant and support is intended to make that step easier.”

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 the implementation of 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 setup fees. 

For more information on the First Employee Grant Scheme or help available under the SAB project please contact the Business Gateway Manager on (01467 534304), or email: econdev@aberdeenshire.gov.uk 

More information is also available on the Aberdeenshire Council website.

CASE STUDY

Grant Scheme helps Gardens to Grow

Ellon Castle Gardens were handed over to the people of Ellon in 2015 and are now run by a charitable trust, having previously been in private ownership. The Trust’s vision is to open up the gardens as a major tourist attraction, bringing visitors and income into the area.

Chairman of Ellon Castle Gardens Trust, Stuart Wale, explains: “In the early stages of taking on the Gardens, a priority was to secure a professional gardener to start the long process of bringing the Gardens, which are at least 300 years old, back to a manageable state.” 

To enable this, the Trust applied to the First Employee Grant Scheme in January 2016 through Aberdeenshire Council. Stuart said: “The opportunity of assistance with employing this gardener as our first employee was very important and the First Employee Grant Scheme was ideal for this purpose. 

“With the help of the grant we were able to secure an excellent gardener who has been with us since appointment and has approached the process of developing the horticultural aspects of the Gardens with vigour.”

Stuart said the Trust found the application process and ongoing support from Aberdeenshire Council easy to access.

“The application form was very straightforward and the whole process of applying was simple,” he said. “We had an initial visit to check on our eligibility as an applicant, and as a formality, there was a further check after six months to establish that our gardener was still employed.

“The First Employee Grant Scheme enabled us to take on our first employee, and we have since employed a second gardener. We are hoping to employ more staff within the Gardens and the proposed Visitor Centre as the project develops.

“Our planned date for opening to the public full-time is 2021. We hope we can become part of a Gardens trail in North East Scotland which will also bring tourists into the region.”

For more information about Ellon Castle Gardens visit: http://elloncastlegardens.org/

You can find out more about the First Employee Grant Scheme, open to a variety of businesses, organisations and charities, on our website