The number of smaller businesses in the UK has shot up: Here are the top-growing sectors

Lucy White
Aerial Views Of London
The number of UK SMEs grew by 23 per cent between 2011 and 2016 (Source: Getty)

The number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK has grown by almost a quarter over the past five years, new research from Hampshire Trust Bank and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has revealed.

The office administration and business sector led the way, as the number of SMEs operating in this niche rocketed by 76 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

Human health services and the motion picture, video, TV, sound recording and music area also saw a hefty increase in the number of SMEs, both growing by 50 per cent.

“The service industries account for around 78 per cent of UK GDP, hence it is encouraging to see that over the past five years growth in the number of SMEs has been particularly strong in these sectors,” said CEBR's Nina Skero.

The sectors with the fastest-growing number of SMEs

Sector Number of SMEs in 2016 Number of SMEs in 2011 Percentage change
Office admin and business support 108,895 61,995 76 per cent
Human health services 60,775 40,400 50 per cent
Motion picture, video, TV, sound recording and music publishing 24,595 16,415 50 per cent
Other professional, scientific and technical 76,665 51,805 48 per cent
Land transport and pipeline transport 61,065 41,865 46 per cent
Head office and management consultancy 174,550 120,080 45 per cent
Computer programming 152,835 106,475 44 per cent
Architectural, engineering & technical testing 100,095 69,450 44 per cent
Transportation and storage 92,485 65,590 41 per cent
Activities auxiliary to financial services and insurance, including online trading platforms 31,930 22,745 40 per cent

Hampshire Trust, a specialist lender, also looked at the areas it focuses on. It found the number of smaller businesses in the transportation and distribution sector has grown 41 per cent, while the number of SMEs constructing domestic buildings has risen by 38 per cent.

However, the research found that real estate SMEs feel less confident about the future of their industry than last year. Economic uncertainty and the level of taxation were named as key barriers to growth, as 53 per cent real estate of SMEs said they were optimistic over the long-term compared to 57 per cent last year.

“We need to recognise the importance of smaller businesses and the role they play in the success of the UK economy, and ensure these firms have the support they need to thrive and grow,” said Hampshire Trust's chief executive Mark Sismey-Durrant.

Related articles