Business numbers in UK at record high

Brought to you by ICPA

In these tumultuous times, how are the UK’s companies faring? Inform Direct’s research makes fascinating reading

New figures just released show that the number of companies doing business in the UK reached a record high at the end of 2017, although there were fewer new companies formed during the year than in 2016 – the first decline since 2010.

Across the UK as a whole, there were 634,116 companies established in 2017 – fewer than the 664,720 companies formed in 2016, but bringing the total number of UK companies to a record 4,120,349.

The slowdown in formation activity has been linked to the impact on business confidence of Brexit, amid some signs of slowdown in the wider economy. Legal changes affecting contractors working through their own limited companies has also reduced the number of companies formed.

London contributed 205,527 of the 569,585 formations in England and there were a further 34,002 companies formed in Scotland. Wales bucked the trend, with 17,408 formations – up from 15,795 in 2016. Northern Ireland also saw a small increase, with the 7,398 companies formed in 2017 very slightly up from 7,389 in 2016.

Some 483,800 companies were dissolved in 2017, up from 468,435 in 2016 which means that for every 100 companies formed in the year, 73 existing companies were closed.

The 4,120,349 companies now registered in the UK is up 4% on the same time a year ago. With 9.8% growth, Wales saw the best annual performance among the countries of the UK. The number of UK companies has increased by more than a third over the last five years.  

After London, which is home to over 1.1 million companies, the areas with the highest populations of companies are Greater Manchester with 177,360, the West Midlands with 159,647 and Essex with 116,669.

This information is drawn from the Inform Direct Review of Company Formation 2018, which is based on official data from Companies House and the Office for National Statistics. You can read more of the report, including a full local breakdown, at https://www. informdirect.co.uk/company-formations-2017/.

• Thanks to Inform Direct for this article