Record high for UK business numbers

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Record high for UK business numbers (image credit: iStock/shironosov)

New government figures have revealed impressive growth in the number of UK businesses in operation across the country over the last six years.

The latest Business Population Estimates report from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has shown how there were 5.5 million private sector businesses working in the UK at the start of 2016 - a record high.

This represents a significant rise of more than one million new companies since the start of the decade. It is also the third year in a row that business numbers have risen across the country. The report is based on VAT and PAYE data from HM Treasury, coupled with additional data from the ONS Labour Force Survey and HMRC.

UK small business numbers were shown to have grown by one million since 2010. At the same time, there are now 4,000 more medium-sized firms in operation and an extra 900 large businesses.

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said: "Britain's businesses are the heroes of our economic revival and it is great to see the number of businesses rise by over a million since 2010.

"Our job creators don't always get the praise and respect they deserve, but we should be proud of our entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators. The government is committed to ensuring Britain builds on its success and is the best place to start and grow a business."

Overall, small businesses now account for 99.3 per cent of all companies in operation in the UK, while the total number of businesses in London alone has now breached the one million mark for the first time.

The rapid expansion in small business numbers in recent years has provided a boost to the economy at a time of significant global economic instability. A new consultation has therefore been launched by the Small Business Commissioner, which will examine new ways of supporting this growing section of UK industry.

Responding to the report's findings, small business minister Margot James concluded: "This government wants enterprise to thrive, our Start Up Loans scheme has awarded more than £250 million to new entrepreneurs and a network of Growth Hubs connects firms to advice and support."