UK is losing 27,000 small businesses every year

How to create a compelling business plan - advice from the experts1

Amount of SMEs operating in the UK falls by 27,000 year-on-year – as campaign group suggests drop must be treated as a ‘warning sign’ to ‘use SMEs or lose them’

New analysis of ONS business population data, including figures for 2018 by the Independents’ Day campaign has revealed that the amount of SMEs operating in the UK has dropped by over 27,000 in the last year.

After four years of year-on-year growth in the UK’s SME population – the dramatic drop in the amount of companies operating with fewer than 250 employees should come as a “warning sign”, suggests Independents’ Day’s organisers.

The ONS business population data published today suggests that the amount of SMEs operating in the UK has fallen from 5,660,000 down from 5,687,230 in 2017’s statistics.

“Such as significant drop in the amount of SMEs operating across Britain suggests that small and medium-sized businesses need more support from policymakers. A decline this sharp over the course of a year is a warning sign to all of us – use SMEs or lose them,” says Independents’ Day spokesperson Howard Robinson.

Despite the decrease in the amount of SMEs now provide 16.3 million jobs – up 200,000 on 2017’s figures. These 16.3 million jobs represent 60% of all employment – compared to 2015’s figures where SMEs were responsible for 12.4 million jobs.

The total turnover of SMEs has reached an all-time high of £2 trillion, up from £1.9tn in 2017’s figures and £1.2tn in 2015. SMEs now provide 51% of the total turnover generated by all businesses in the UK, compared to the 33% stated in 2015’s data. 

Robinson continues, “Our analysis proves that SMEs have never been more important to the British economy – not only in terms of their output, but also as employers. SMEs offer choice, diversity of product and service, tradition as well as innovation, and a more personal service to customer. These businesses are under pressure – they have never needed our support more.”

Independents’ Day UK is a not-for-profit campaign that exists to support and promote independent retail businesses across the UK all year round, but with an annual focus on July 4th: ‘Independents’ Day’ itself. Independents account for something in the order of 65% of the approximately 290,000 retail outlets in the UK and are at the heart of local communities throughout the country.