HC Deb 07 May 1996 vol 277 c42W
Mr. David Nicholson

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what criteria are used to define a small business; how many people(a) in number and (b) as a percentage of the total workforce, are currently employed by small businesses in the United Kingdom so defined; how many small businesses are currently operating in the United Kingdom at the latest estimate; and what were the numbers in 1987, 1990 and 1992. [28218]

Mr. Page

There is no single definition of what constitutes a small firm. A range of definitions is used in practice according to the context in which they will apply, for example in setting boundaries for schemes targeted at small firms. For statistical purposes, a small firm is often defined as having fewer than 100 employees.

The latest estimates show 10.4 million people, 50 per cent. of the private sector work force, employed in such small firms at the end of 1993. Estimates of the numbers of small firms operating in the United Kingdom are given in the table.

Numbers of small1 firms in the United Kingdom
Year Number (millions)
1986 3.22
1988 3.66
1990 3.77
1992 3.50
1993 3.56


1 Firms with fewer than 100 employees.


Department of Trade and Industry.

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