Press release

Number of private sector businesses at record high

Official figures show that the number of private sector businesses in the UK has reached 5 million for the first time.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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  • number of private sector businesses in UK reaches new record of 5.2 million
  • the business population exceeds 5 million for the first time
  • small businesses employ 12 million people, with a combined turnover of £1.2 trillion, accounting for 33% of turnover in the private sector

Official figures published today (26 November 2014) show that the number of private sector businesses in the UK has reached 5 million for the first time at the start of 2014. This is a record annual increase of 330,000 businesses (up 6.7%) on last year.

There has also been an increase of 66,000 (up 5.5%) in the number of employing businesses, making 2014 only the second single year of growth since 2008.

The 5.2 million businesses fall almost entirely in the small category, with businesses employing fewer than 50 people making up 99.3% of the total number.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Despite a tough economic backdrop, today’s figures of an all-time high of more than 5 million businesses in the UK show that our talent for innovation and entrepreneurship is leading the way to recovery.

It’s a timely reminder that small firms make up the majority of our business community and it is those with the creativity and commercial nous that will continue our legacy as a world-leading enterprising nation. Government has played a crucial role in enabling this growth by cutting red tape, increasing access to finance and supporting industry-led skills and training initiatives.

Notes to editors:

  1. There were an estimated 5.2 million UK private sector businesses at the start of 2014, an increase of 330,000 compared to the start of 2013.
  2. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) account for more than half of employment (60%) and almost half of turnover (47%) in the UK private sector. Small businesses alone (fewer than 50 employees) account for 48% of private sector employment and 33% of private sector turnover.
  3. The Business Population Estimates 2014 statistical release is available at Business population estimates 2014
Published 26 November 2014