Number of Businesses in UK at All-Time High

Number of Businesses in UK at All-Time High

Number of UK businesses at record high – over a million more businesses since 2010.


The number of private sector businesses in the UK has hit a record 5.5 million, according to official statistics.

  • official statistics show a record 5.5 million private sector businesses in the UK
  • number of employing businesses rises for the third year in a row
  • consultation launched on Small Business Commissioner

The number of private sector businesses in the UK has hit a record 5.5 million, according to official statistics welcomed by Business Secretary Greg Clark today (13 October 2016).

The Business Population Estimates show that, at the start of 2016, the UK had a million more small businesses, 4,000 more medium-sized businesses and 900 more large businesses, compared to 2010 – a total increase of 23%.

These are the official estimates of the UK business population at the start of 2016.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

Britain’s businesses are the heroes of our economic revival and it is great to see the number of businesses rise by over a million since 2010.

Our job creators don’t always get the praise and respect they deserve but we should be proud of our entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators. The government is committed to ensuring Britain builds on its success and is the best place to start and grow a business.

Small and medium-sized firms account for at least 99% of businesses in every main industry sector. The total number of businesses in London has also reached 1 million for the first time and the number of businesses employing people across the country has risen for the third year running.

Small Business Minister Margot James said:

There are a million more small businesses now than in 2010 and it’s important to recognise the great contribution they make to local communities and the national economy.

This government wants enterprise to thrive, our Start Up Loans scheme has awarded more than £250 million to new entrepreneurs and a network of Growth Hubs connect firms to advice and support. Today, we are also launching a consultation on the Small Business Commissioner, who will be a strong representative for small firms across the UK.

The consultation will look at how the Small Business Commissioner will operate and handle complaints and is open to responses from businesses of all sizes.

Notes to editors

  1. The Business Population Estimates 2016 are National Statistics.
  2. This robust estimate of the whole business population is obtained by adding the number of businesses registered for VAT and PAYE to an estimate of the number of unregistered businesses, based on additional sources including the ONS Labour Force Survey and data from HMRC.
  3. This gives a snapshot of businesses at the start of 2016. The growth is the net annual change, taking into account all business start-ups, closures and also takeovers and mergers. It means more businesses have started than closed.
  4. Small businesses accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2016, and 99.9% were small or medium-sized (SMEs).
  5. The overall business population includes 3 main legal forms: there were 3.3 million sole proprietorships (60% of the total), 1.8 million companies (32%), and 421,000 ordinary partnerships (8%).
  6. The consultation on the Small Business Commissioner is available
  7. Self-employment is an important part of the business population with 3.7 million businesses run as sole proprietorships or partnerships. The government is launching a new review to consider how employment rules need to change to keep pace with the rise of self-employment and other changes in the way people work in the modern economy.


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