A new release calendar has been launched on GOV.UK. The Publication Hub website will soon be decommissioned.

Skip to content

The distribution of businesses in the UK can be analysed by size, location, industry and legal status. Business location can be identified at two levels; the location of individual sites (local units) and the location of the business (enterprise level), for example, in terms of its main operating site or head office.


Business Demography
Department: Office for National Statistics
Births, deaths and survivals of UK enterprises. The active stock of businesses is also shown, so that birth and death rates can be calculated.
Business Demography: Enterprise Births and Deaths in Wales
Department: Welsh Government
This Statistical Bulletin presents data on enterprise births, deaths and survival rates. Includes data for Wales and local authorities within Wales.
Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions
Department: Business, Innovation and Skills
This publication provides the only official government statistics that attempt to the estimate the total number of UK private sector businesses in the UK and their contribution to employment and turnover. Also provided is an estimate of the total number of businesses in the UK whole economy. The publication supercedes the BIS 'Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Statistics for the UK and Regions'.
Commercial and Industrial Floor space and Rateable Value Statistics
Department: Communities and Local Government
Hereditament, floor space and rateable value statistics for non-domestic property.
English Business Survey
Department: Business, Innovation and Skills
The English Business Survey provides a high level view of business and economic conditions across the country over a range of backward and forward looking directional indicators including output, stocks, employment, labour costs, output prices, hours, capital investment and capacity constraints.
Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) Facts and Figures (Northern Ireland)
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Numbers of VAT and PAYE registered businesses in Northern Ireland, by region, size and industry.
Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Activities of UK multinationals abroad. The aim of the data is to analyse the sectoral and geographical composition of UK multinationals’ activities abroad.
UK Business: Activity, Size and Location
Department: Office for National Statistics
Tables on local units and enterprises by geography, industry, legal status and employment size band. Additional tables at enterprise level by age of business and turnover size band.

Back to the top


UK Business: Activity, Size and Location

Data are available at both enterprise and local unit level, and tables including industry data (down to SIC four digit) and geographical data down to parliamentary constituency. Only VAT and/or PAYE registered enterprises are included.

Business Population Estimates

This publication provides information on the size distribution of all businesses in the UK. It is a continuation of the series Small and Medium-size Enterprise Statistics for the UK and the Regions but uses a revised methodology to improve the quality of the estimates. The publication was renamed to highlight the discontinuity between the 2009 and 2010 estimates. Data are available by  private/public/non-profit sectors and by legal status, regions and industries for private sector businesses only. Regional data are based on the location of the enterprise. Subregional data are not available, as the data for the unregistered business population are based on sample data, which are not robust enough below regional level.

Business Demography

Enterprise birth, death and survivals. This dataset was introduced for the first time in 2008, and follows the methodology set out in the Eurostat/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Business Demography Manual. It includes births and deaths by industry, size band, and geography; based on the location of the enterprise.

VAT registrations and de-registrations

This publication was released for the last time in 2008. Since 2008 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) business demography dataset is the main official source of information on business births and deaths. This dataset provides details of business starts and closures, stock and net change from 1994 to 2007, based on data from the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR). Data are available for the UK, regions, unitary/local authorities and parliamentary constituencies. Geographical data are based on the location of the enterprise.

Back to the top

Technical Data

UK Business: Activity Size and Location

The data contained in this publication are produced from a snapshot of the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) taken in March of each year. Introduced in 1994, the IDBR provides the basis for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to conduct surveys of businesses. 

The main administrative sources for the IDBR are VAT trader and PAYE employer information passed to ONS by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) under the Value Added Tax Act 1994 for VAT traders and the Finance Act 1969 for PAYE employers. Details of incorporated businesses are also passed to ONS by Companies House.

The IDBR combines the information from the three administrative sources with some survey data in a statistical register comprising over two million enterprises. These comprehensive administrative sources, combined with the survey data, contribute to the coverage on the IDBR, which is one of its main strengths.

In 2008, the publication was enhanced to include enterprises based on PAYE employers that are not also registered for VAT, extending the scope from the previous VAT-based enterprise publication. This was a major improvement to the scope of the publication.

Regional analyses are provided for VAT and/or PAYE based enterprises and local units. Where an enterprise has several local units, the location of the enterprise is generally the main operating site or the head office. Tables B1.1, B1.2, B1.3, B1.4, B2.1 and B2.2 provide summaries of the location of enterprises, and tables A1.1, A1.2 and A2.1 provide similar data for local units. For Tables A6.1, A6.2, B6.1, B6.2 and B6.3, the data are presented by Parliamentary Constituency boundaries.

Business Population Estimates

This publication is based on a snapshot of data from the IDBR taken in March of each year, to obtain the number of enterprises live at the start of the year (for example, the March 2010 extract was used to obtain businesses live at the start of 2010).

Only enterprises registered for VAT and/or PAYE appear on the IDBR, so this publication estimates the number of small unregistered enterprises using other sources (the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the HMRC self-assessment data). Details of the methodology can be found on the BIS website.

Business Demography

A joint Eurostat/OECD Manual on Business Demography has been produced, which defines and sets out the broad methodology that should be used to produce business demography data.

The starting point for demography is the concept of a population of active businesses in a reference year. These are defined as businesses that had either turnover or employment at any time during the reference period. Births and deaths are then identified by comparing active populations for different years.

VAT registrations and de-registrations

NB Because of the development of the Business Demography methodology described above, which is more inclusive in terms of identifying new births and deaths, the publication released on 28 November 2008 was the last in this series.

There is no requirement for all new businesses to notify the government when they start trading. Therefore, data available on VAT registration and de-registration was used as a proxy for business start-up and closure activity.

Less than half of the estimated business population in the UK is registered for VAT, so this publication does miss some start-up and closure activity that may occur below the VAT thresholds. However, it provides a useful guide to the trends over time in start-up and closure activity, and also provides detailed geographical and sectoral data.

Because of lags in some activity being notified to HMRC and appearing on the business register (IDBR), adjustments were made to the administrative data to take account of this. 

Back to the top


  • Enterprise

    An enterprise is the smallest grouping of legal units (VAT or PAYE records) that have a degree of autonomy. In some cases an enterprise may be part of an enterprise group.

  • Local units

    Local units are individual sites belonging to an enterprise. For example, these are offices, factories or shops operated by the enterprise. 

Back to the top

Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Enterprise Statistics

Email: enterprise.statistics@bis.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 11 4279 4435

2 St Paul's Place 125 Norfolk Street Sheffield S1 2FJ

Back to the top