Thursday 9 November 2017 9:40 am

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

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

SectorNumber of SMEs in 2016Number of SMEs in 2011Percentage change
Office admin and business support108,89561,99576 per cent
Human health services60,77540,40050 per cent
Motion picture, video, TV, sound recording and music publishing24,59516,41550 per cent
Other professional, scientific and technical76,66551,80548 per cent
Land transport and pipeline transport61,06541,86546 per cent
Head office and management consultancy174,550120,08045 per cent
Computer programming152,835106,47544 per cent
Architectural, engineering & technical testing100,09569,45044 per cent
Transportation and storage92,48565,59041 per cent
Activities auxiliary to financial services and insurance, including online trading platforms31,93022,74540 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.