Private business numbers reach record high

There are now a record 5.5 million businesses in the UK private sector, according to official statistics from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Business Population Estimates report suggests that there were one million more small businesses at the start of this year, when compared to 2010.

There were also 4,000 more mid-sized firms and 900 more large businesses – representing an overall increase of 23%.

Business secretary Greg Clark has described the businesses as “the heroes of our economic revival” and praised those that have helped to set up new enterprises.

All of the figures highlight net growth, and include all start-ups, closures, mergers and acquisitions – essentially meaning that more business have opened than have closed.

It isn’t necessarily all plain-sailing for firms though, as research from Ormsby Street – released in August – suggested that 60% of businesses fail within the first five years of trading.

Hit hard by late payments and a lack of finance, firms are left facing administration or in need of alternative recovery methods.

London is now home to more than one million businesses – having surpassed the figure for the first time – while small and mid-sized firms account for 99% of all firms across every industry sector.

Business minister Margot James has also talked up the importance of recognising the contribution of small businesses to both the regional and national economies.

Alongside alternative finance options, a series of Start Up Loans and Growth Hubs have helped sustain business growth.

The Government has also launched a consultation that will decide on how the Small Business Commissioner will carry out their role and has asked businesses of all sizes for their input.

Given the uncertain backdrop in the wake of the EU referendum, it remains to be seen if the UK business environment will be adversely affected.

By Phil Smith

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