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How many limited companies are there in the UK?

One of the questions we are most frequently asked at Company Bug is “how many limited companies are there in the UK”, or similar questions relating to the business population as a whole
How many limited companies are there in the UK

How many small businesses are there?

According to the latest statistics from the House of Commons Business Statistics, there are around 5.7m SME’s operating in the UK in 2017.

According to the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses), These businesses employ over 16.1 million people and contribute a turn over of £1.9 trillion to the UK economy.

A massive 99% of all enterprises are defined as SME’s (Small/Medium Enterprises) SME’s are defined by the number of people they employ, which can be anywhere between 0-249 people.

How many limited companies are there?

There were around 3.4 million sole proprietorships (60%) in the UK at the start of 2017, 414,000 partnerships (7%), and 1.9 million limited companies (33%).

Out of the 1.9 million actively tarding limited companies in the UK (2017), around 990,000 were employers, whereas 891,000 companies were not. Therefore, just over half of limited companies are employers and just under a half are one man band businesses.

Unlike sole traders, it is much easier to pinpoint precise numbers of limited companies, as the relevant data is captured centrally at Companies House.

Breakdown by region

Although the number of limited companies/businesses established in each region will obviously vary according to population density.

London and south east Enland has the most businesses compared to the rest of the country. London was the home to 1.1 million businesses. The south east came a close second with just under a million (929,000) businesses.

The lowest proportion of enterprises is in the North East, which has 142,000 private sector businesses.

By country, the breakdown is as follows: England (5 million), Northern Ireland (132,000), Wales (209,000) and Scotland (346,000).

Professional enterprises

Many Company Bug readers are in the professional business sector, typically working via their own limited companies.

The industry witht the most of the SMEs in the UK is construction, with nearly one fith (1 million) busineesses being int he constrcution secto. The share of businesses in the ‘professional, scientific and technical activities’ sector came second with 15% of businesses being in the secotr in the country as a whole.

Further Information

You can access the most up-to-date release of the business population estimates from GOV.UK here.

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