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Size and Growth

  1. There were 5.5 million private sector businesses at the start of 2016 an increase of 97,000 since 2015 and 2.0 million more since 2000.
  2. The number of employing businesses increased by 14,000 and the number of sole trader/self-employed businesses by 84,000, with the annual growth for both groups being around +3%.

Importance of SME’s:

  1. 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).
  2. Total employment in SMEs was 15.7 million; 60% of all private sector employment in the UK.
  3. The combined annual turnover of SMEs was £1.8 trillion, 47% of all private sector turnover in the UK.

The business population breakdown:

  1. In 2016, there were 1.3 million employing businesses and 4.2 million non-employing businesses. Therefore, 76% of businesses did not employ anyone aside from the owner.
  2. The overall business population includes three 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%).
  3. There were 2.5 million businesses registered for VAT or PAYE, 45% of the total population. A further 3.0 million are not registered for either VAT or PAYE.

Trends:

  1. There has been sustained growth in the total business population, with increases of +59% since 2000 and +2% since 2015.
  2. The majority of population growth since 2000 has been due to non-employing businesses, which accounted for 89% of the overall increase.
  3. The growth in numbers of businesses last year reflected the composition of the business population in 2015, with non-employing businesses accounting for 86% of the overall 97,000 increase.
  4. The number of companies has increased in recent years and increased again in the last year by 125,000 (+8%). In contrast, the number of ordinary partnerships continued to fall, with a 16,000 (-4%) reduction from 2015. The number of sole proprietorships decreased by 12,000 (-0.3%).
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