BIG BUSINESS dominates the UK workforce more than in any other country in the EU, according to figures released yesterday by the European Commission.
Companies with 250 or more staff employ almost half (46.4 per cent) of the 17.7m UK workers in the non-financial private sector – well above the EU average of 32.8 per cent, according to figures published by Eurostat.
Micro-businesses, which include self employed people and firms with fewer than 10 employees, only employ 18 per cent of the UK’s private sector staff. In the average EU country, that proportion is 29.5 per cent.
The contrast with Italy is particularly stark. Just 20.2 per cent of Italian workers are employed in big firms, while micro enterprises account for 46 per cent of business employment in the Mediterranean economy.
Despite employing such a significant proportion of the UK workforce, large firms make up only 0.3 per cent of the UK’s non-financial enterprises, slightly ahead of the 0.2 per cent average in the single market.
However, in terms of turnover, big UK companies outperform – 55.7 per cent of non-financial turnover is produced by these large firms, well above the EU average of 43.5 per cent. Only Germany and the UK’s big corporations generate over half of their respective country’s business turnover.
“Micro-enterprises are vital if the UK’s economic recovery isn’t to stall,” said Philip Salter, director of The Entrepreneurs Network.
“Fast-growing companies, so-called gazelles, will create the jobs of the future, and we need as many of these risk-taking businesses in order to compete on the global stage.”
Salter added: “In addition, small businesses provide more informal employment opportunities to those at the margins of society, who are unable to secure full-time employment at large companies.”