Quango defends role despite jobs freeze

The role of Scottish Enterprise in the Borders has been questioned after a report showed its employment scheme only created 24 jobs last year.

While more than £43million was handed out to 118 Scottish firms through Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) in 2012/13 – creating 3,613 posts throughout the country – just one Borders firm received a grant.

And a solitary sum of £60,000 came to the region out of a £33.14million pot from the Scottish Investment Bank, SE’s funding arm to support businesses with growth and export potential.

Critics have compared the figures to those of Scottish Enterprise Borders, which was disbanded in 2008.

Its 2006/07 review showed 50 new rural projects were assisted in the region, alongside almost 400 people being trained in Enterprise programmes.

Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce convener James Aitken said: “I do think that questions needs to be asked.

“Similar issues probably apply to VisitScotland and any other quangos that have an interest in the Borders.

“To me, this is a question of transparency.”

A spokeswoman for SE said the body has helped firms such as Mainetti and Kelso chemical firm Scotmas to expand.

She added: “We continue to have a strong presence in the Borders and we are currently working with 73 companies in the area which have been identified as high growth opportunities, to help them increase efficiencies, improve productivity and expand internationally.”