Thousands of firms have been wound up over the past year in Scotland, new figures have revealed.
The 2.5 per cent drop since 2017 is proof of the SNP’s “anti-business attitude”, the Scottish Conservatives said.
The official statistics showed there are now 345,915 private sector businesses north of the border.
That compares to 354,745 the year before, a drop of 8830.
The rate of private businesses per head of population is also worse in Scotland than the rest of the UK.
Latest analysis shows the rate north of the border is just 70 per cent of the British total.
Total business turnover is at its lowest level since 2015, while only a handful of local authority areas have seen an increase in business activity.
Shadow economy secretary Dean Lockhart said a range of SNP policies were contributing to a more hostile environment, not least Scotland becoming the highest-taxed part of the UK.
He added that, after more than 11 years in government, the nationalists should have done more to encourage entrepreneurship.
Dean Lockhart MSP said:
“Over the years we’ve heard plenty of warm words from the SNP about encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting those who set up their own businesses.
“But those words have come to nothing, and these figures today show the situation is now going backwards.
“This is all the consequence of an SNP government with an anti-business attitude.
“Instead of helping people who want to take risks and go it alone with their business, the nationalists focus on hiking tax and punishing hard work.
“It’s no wonder the number of private business has fallen as a result.”