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How many business enterprises are there in the UK?

October 2, 2008

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest report on the number of registered businesses in the UK. There was a 3% rise in business enterprise numbers in the year to March 2008.

The latest data reveals that there there were 2.16 million business enterprises registered for VAT and/or PAYE in March 2008, compared to 2.10 million in March 2007 – representing a 3% rise year-on-year.

During the year, the number of sole traders and partnerships reduced, while more businesses decided to incorporate.

Business Structure Breakdown

  • “Corporate businesses” (companies and public corporations) represent 56.6% of total enterprises
  • Sole proprietors – 25.4%
  • Partnerships represent – 14.1%
  • General government and non-profit making bodies – 3.9%

According to the ONS date, the property and business services sector accounts for the largest number of businesses with 31.9% of all enterprises registered. This is followed by construction with 11.6% of all enterprises registered, and then the retail sector with 9.2%

Given the recent economic turmoil in the economy, the percentage share of several industries mentioned above could well decrease significantly in the next report.

Distribution by Employee Numbers

The report shows that 89% of all enterprises had less than 10 employees, and 98.1% had less than 50 employees. The very largest companies (those with 250+ employees) accounted for just 0.4% of all business enterprises

Distribution by Business Age

Analysis by age shows that 17.4% of businesses were under two years old, and 32% were under four years old. 41.2% of businesses were 10 or more years old.