Press release

Number of UK businesses continues to grow

Official figures show that the number of private sector businesses in the UK has hit a new record of 5.4 million.

  • record 5.4 million private sector businesses in the UK
  • there are over 900,000 more businesses now than in 2010
  • 35,000 more businesses are employing people than last year
  • small firms contribute 48% of private sector employment and add £1.2 trillion in turnover to the economy

The number of private sector businesses in the UK has hit 5.4 million – a new record – according to official figures published today (14 October 2015).

The Business Population Estimates also show the number of businesses that employ people has grown for the second year running, with 35,000 more at the start of 2015 than in 2014.

Small businesses continue to make up 99.3% of all businesses and generate over £1 trillion turnover for the UK’s economy.

There has also been an increase in the number of medium-sized businesses, which employ between 50 and 249 people, with 1,000 more of these firms at the start of 2015 than in 2014.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said:

It’s fantastic news there are now a record number of businesses in the UK, creating jobs and ensuring our country’s economic security.

Our long-term economic plan has helped create the conditions for businesses to start, grow and flourish.

But with risks in the global economy, this government is determined to continue to back our businesses and grow our economy.

The figures also show there are 7,000 large businesses in the UK that employ over 10 million people and make a significant contribution to the economy (£2 trillion turnover).

The overall business population includes 3.3 million sole proprietors and 1.6 million companies.

Notes to editors

  1. The figures published today (14 October 2015) are the official estimates of the UK business population in 2015.The Business Population Estimates 2015 statistical release
  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 2015. The reported 146,000 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 2015, 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 (62% of the total), 1.6 million companies (30%), and 436,000 ordinary partnerships (8%).
Published 14 October 2015