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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/incorporated-companies-in-the-uk-october-to-december-2019/incorporated-companies-in-the-uk-october-to-december-2019
This release provides information about the population of companies in the UK. A company is defined as a specific legal form of business formed under the Companies Act 2006. Companies are registered at Companies House regardless of whether they go on to trade actively. Further information on companies and the Companies Act 2006 is provided in our Definitions to accompany statistical releases.
The statistics in this release include the total number of incorporated companies, the number of newly incorporated companies and the number of companies that were dissolved. The release focusses on the headline messages for the UK. Figures for the constituent countries are contained in the supplementary tables that accompany this release. The supplementary tables also contain separate figures for public companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs).
1.1 Key points
- Between October and December 2019, there were 155,950 new incorporations and 121,625 dissolutions in the UK. Continuing the trend from the previous year, both the number of incorporations and the number of dissolutions in the fourth quarter is the lowest seen throughout the calendar year.
- At the end of December 2019, there were 4,316,395 companies on the total register and 4,024,259 on the effective register. Both the total and effective registers continue to increase in size, although the growth rate has slowed in recent years. This is the lowest growth of the effective register for any quarter since 2012.
- For the first time since 2012, there was a decrease in the number of incorporations in the fourth quarter when compared to the same period a year ago.
- Dissolutions have increased considerably compared to the same quarter of the previous year, reaching the highest quarter four figure recorded since 2012.
- This is the first time both the number of incorporations and dissolutions have decreased for a third successive quarter since 2012.
2. Incorporated companies
Between October and December 2019, there were 155,950 incorporations and 121,625 dissolutions in the UK. At the end of December 2019, there were 4,316,395 companies on the UK total register – this includes those in the course of dissolution and liquidation (292,136).
Compared with the end of September 2019, the total register increased by 36,423 companies (0.9%). Increases were seen in all constituent countries: England and Wales increased by 0.9%, Scotland by 0.5% and Northern Ireland by 1.2%.
At the end of December 2019, the number of companies on the effective register – which excludes those in the course of dissolution or liquidation – was 4,024,259. This was an increase of 15,924 companies (0.4%) compared with the end of September 2019.
The total register increased by 156,929 companies (3.8%) compared with the fourth quarter of 2018, whilst the effective register increased by 144,415 (3.7%). Both the total and effective registers have increased in a linear fashion since 2012, albeit at a slower growth rate in recent years.
2.1 Chart 1: UK total and effective register sizes, 2012 quarter 1 to 2019 quarter 4
The number of incorporations and dissolutions in the fourth quarter of 2019 are in line with recent trends, despite noticeable increases during the first quarter of 2019 (see Chart 2).
The number of incorporations in the fourth quarter of 2019 was slightly lower than those recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018. This represents the first time quarter four has seen a year on year decrease since 2012. Despite the latest decrease, the number of incorporations has continued to trend upwards over time. There were 27,748 (21.6%) more incorporations in the fourth quarter of 2019 than in the first quarter of 2012.
During the fourth quarter of 2019, the number of dissolutions increased considerably when compared with the same period of 2018, rising by 9,504 (8.5%). This is the highest number of dissolutions seen in any fourth quarter since 2012. Aside from minor fluctuations, the number of dissolutions has continued to increase over time, nearly doubling between the first quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2019. There were 50,357 more dissolutions in the fourth quarter of 2019 than in the first quarter of 2012.
2.2 Chart 2: UK total incorporations and dissolutions, 2012 quarter 1 to 2019 quarter 4
A full breakdown of figures for England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole is provided in the Excel workbook that accompanies this release. Figures are provided on both a quarterly and annual basis from 2011.
3. Other statistics in this release
In addition to the tables covering register activity for all companies, a range of other statistics are included in the tables that accompany this release. These tables provide information at the individual country level and for the UK as a whole.
The tables cover:
- the register activity for public companies
- the register activity for LLPs
- company insolvencies and liquidations
- removals from the register
4. Background notes
This section provides a range of information designed to provide the user with more information about the statistics.
A separate document Definitions to accompany statistical releases is available, providing definitions for the main terms used in Companies House official statistics publications.
Information relating to the quality of the statistics is provided in a separate quality document. This document provides information on the quality of Companies House’s official statistics, to enable users to judge whether the data are of sufficient quality for their intended use. The information is structured in terms of the quality dimensions of the European Statistical System. The document also provides information on how these statistics relate to selected other business statistics.
This release provides information on the size of the company population and the changes that have occurred within the quarter. The release includes statistics for the UK, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. The statistics cover companies, which are specific legal forms of businesses that are registered at Companies House. They do not include information on sole proprietorship businesses, partnerships, or charities.
4.4 Use and users
Companies House statistics are used extensively by government, the public, public bodies and businesses. For example, they’re used by:
- government in understanding the likely impact of policy changes and monitoring the impact of economic changes on companies
- businesses in understanding their market share and planning marketing strategies
- banks in developing an understanding of their customer base
- foreign firms in making UK location decisions
- academics to inform research into businesses at local and national level
- a range of public bodies in decision making and evaluating business-related policies
4.6 Revisions to these statistics
Revisions to these statistics will be mainly due to changes in methodologies and source data. The statistics are derived from administrative data, and changes to the underlying methods will cause revisions. These include changes in statistical methods, definitions, classifications, and geographic coverage.
Although Companies House has robust procedures in place to minimise errors in the methods used to create these statistics, errors may occasionally occur. If errors are found after the publication, their impact will be assessed. If the changes are significant, a correction will be issued as soon as possible. Minor corrections will be included in the next planned release.
Any misleading or incorrect figures will be amended and a footnote added to indicate that the figures have been corrected. The nature and reason for the correction will be explained.
4.7 Date of next release
Statistics for the period 1 January to 31 March 2020 will be published on 30 April 2020. The publication date has been announced on our release calendar.