Press release

Number of private sector businesses surpasses last year’s record high

Official figures published today show that the number of private sector businesses in the UK has reached 4.9 million.

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

  • number of private sector businesses in UK reaches new record of 4.9 million
  • small and medium sized businesses employ 14.4 million people, with a combined turnover of almost £1,600 billion
  • combined turnover of all UK businesses was £3,300 billion

Official figures published today show that the number of private sector businesses in the UK has reached 4.9 million, eclipsing the record levels of last year. The new record is down to an increase of 102,000 businesses.

The 4.9 million businesses fall almost entirely in the small and medium-sized category, with businesses employing fewer than 250 people making up 99% of the total number. Those employing fewer than 50 employees make up nearly half of all businesses and account for a third of private sector turnover.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Today’s figures are a timely reminder of the number of people willing to try their hand at business. They also show an encouraging regional story with the figures for the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber particularly positive.

Enterprise Minister Matt Hancock said:

Britain is turning a corner with a record 4.9 million businesses now trading across the country. There are now around 400,000 more businesses than in 2010, an increase of 9%.

There is much more to do, not least to make it easier to employ people and create jobs, like with the new £2,000 Employment Allowance that from April will cut tax on jobs in every company, large and small.

From next April, businesses will receive a £2,000 Employment Allowance discount off their National Insurance bill, effectively removing the tax on jobs for around 450,000 small businesses.

The government wants to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. In the autumn it will launch a public campaign to celebrate GREAT British business success stories. The government wants to inspire other small businesses and point them towards the support that can help them grow. It will also launch a new strategy for how the whole of government will back them. This will set out a range of measures to continue helping budding entrepreneurs and existing businesses succeed.

Notes to editors:

  1. There was an estimated 4.9 million private sector businesses in the UK at the start of 2013, an increase of 102,000 compared to the start of 2012.

  2. The 4.9 million private sector businesses employed an estimated 24.3 million people, and had an estimated combined annual turnover of £3,300 billion.

  3. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) employ 14.4 million people – or 59.3% of private sector employment.

  4. UK SMEs combined annual turnover was £1,577 billion – or 48.1% of all private sector turnover.

  5. The growth in the number of overall businesses from 2010 and 2013 is over 394,000 (9%)

  6. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 23 October 2013