Collection: Business population estimates

Updated: Added details of new data tools.

The business population estimates for the UK and regions (BPE) publication provides the only official estimate of the total number of private sector businesses in the UK at the start of each year, with their associated employment and turnover. This differs from other national statistics outputs produced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on VAT traders and PAYE employers. The ‘Guide to Business Statistics’, below, sets out the differences. The business population estimates provides further information by number of employees, legal status, industry and geography.

Published editions

The publication has 3 main outputs. For headline summary information, refer to the statistical release. More detailed data is available in the Excel data sheet. The ‘Methodology and quality note’ shows how the estimates are calculated, as well as reporting on the quality of the statistics and changes to the methodology.

The 2017 edition of business population estimates for the UK and regions was published on 30 November 2017. View the latest BPE figures. Future release dates will be announced on the GOV.UK release calendar.


The government first released business population estimates for the UK and regions in 2011, following a public consultation and methodological review. The BPE publication uses an improved methodology, which has an impact on the estimate of the number of businesses in the UK. It is therefore not directly comparable with estimates from previous editions of Small and medium-sized enterprises for the UK and regions.

To address the break in the series that these methodological improvements introduced, the BPE publication contains a time-series of headline level estimates of the number of businesses in the UK back to 2000, using a consistent methodology throughout. As in previous years information in the latest BPE edition revises and supersedes previously published estimates in this series of the total number of businesses since 2000.

The Economic and labour market review, published in April 2011, provides further details on how the methodological improvements affected the series.

Data tools

Beta releases of several data tools are now online. These tools are based on data from the 2017 Business Population Estimates release, which was published on 30 November 2017. Details of the tools are as follows:

  • interactive data dashboard – this allows users to generate charts and tables based on data selections that they make
  • data downloader – this allows users to download headline data in a quick and flexible manner
  • Application Programme Interface (API) instructions – this allows advanced users to download headline data by entering a URL in a specific format

(Please note, the tools have been tested in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox; they may not necessarily work as well in other browsers).

Please email should you have any feedback or comments on these beta data tools.