UK Small Business Statistics

Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions in 2020


Summary

  • There were 5.9 million small businesses at the start of 2020.
  • Compared with the previous year, the private sector business population increased 1.9% (+113,000 businesses).

SMEs and the Economy:

  • At the start of 2020 there were 5.94 million small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees), 99.3% of the total business. SMEs account for 99.9% of the business population (6.0 million businesses). 
  • SMEs account for three fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector.
  • Total employment in SMEs was 16.8 million (61% of the total), whilst turnover was estimated at £2.3 trillion (52%).
  • Employment in small businesses (with 0 to 49 employees) was 13.3 million (48% of the total), with a turnover of £1.6 trillion (36%).

Composition of the business population:

  • In 2020, there were estimated to be 6.0 million UK private sector businesses
  • 1.4 million of these had employees and 4.6 million had no employees.
  • The UK private sector business population is made up of 3.5 million sole proprietorships (59% of the total), 2.0 million actively trading companies (34%) and 414,000 ordinary partnerships (7%) in 2020.
  • 2.6 million private sector businesses as registered for VAT or PAYE, 45% of the estimated total population.

Trends in the business population

  • Between 2019 and 2020, the total business population grew by 113,000 (1.9%). 
  • Between 2000 and 2020 the business population increased by 2.5 million (+72%), with the highest rate of increase was +7% between 2003 and 2004, and between 2013 and 2014.
  • There was a decrease in the business population (for the first time in the series) between 2017 and 2018 of 27,000.

Locations and industries

  • Nearly a fifth of all SMEs were operating in Construction, compared with less than 1% in the Mining, Quarrying and Utilities sector.
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities accounted for 15% of all SMEs, while 9% were in the Wholesale and Retail Trade and Repair sector.
  • London (1.1 million) and the South East (932,000) had the most private sector businesses, accounting for 35% of the UK business population, while the North East had 163,000 private sector businesses, the least of any English region.

Figures obtained from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

 

Get the lastest news

The FSB monthly newsletter contains useful info for those who are self-employed, own a small business or those interested in the important work we carry out. By subscribing you're showing your support for the 5.8m small businesses across the UK and the important role they play in our society.

 
subscribe now