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Record number of one-man limited companies in the UK

The latest private sector business statistics have been released by the Department of BIS. There are a record 4.8m private enterprises operating in the UK, of which around 27% are private limited companies.

At the start of 2012, there were 3 million sole traders, 448,000 partnerships and 1.3 million limited companies. The total sum of live enterprises is the highest since records began.

The ‘Business Population Estimates 2012’ report also provides an interesting insight into the ownership of the UK’s limited companies, in terms of employees and industry types.

Over 1/2 million one-man-band limited companies in the UK

Of the 1.3m companies in existence, 785,000 (58.6%) had employees at the start of 2012 – meaning that there are now 515,000 one-man-band limited companies in the UK.

The report estimates that a total of 253,000 new businesses have been set up between January 2011 and January 2012 – of these, 170,000 are unregistered, and 82,000 were registered for VAT and/or PAYE.

In total, there was a 6.5% increase in limited companies during the year in question, and a 6% increase in sole traderships and partnerships.

Industry types, and regional breakdown

The industries which account for the highest number of private enterprises are construction (907,000), professional / technical / scientific (666,000) and retail trade and repair (515,000).

The spread of private businesses across the country remains heavily skewed towards the South – with 806,000 businesses in London and 768,000 in the South East – around one third of the UK total.

The South also has the highest business density rates, as well as the highest number of enterprises. The North East, by comparison, has the lowest business density rate (and second lowest number of private sector enterprises in total).

London and the South East also have an above-average share of professional service businesses (including contractors and freelancers no doubt) – taking 16.9% and 16.5% shares of the total, compared to a nationwide average of 13.9%.

Further information

You can download the Department of BIS report here (PDF format), and our summary of last year’s figures here.

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