More than half the UK working population are employed by SMEs, and they continue to grow, says a DTI report

The number of SMEs in England increased by 0.3 million between 2003 and 2005, a rise of 8.5%. And in the UK as a whole, SMEs account for over half of all employment with 58.7%.

This is also true for each region in the UK except London, where SMEs only account for 47%. For the South West, Wales and Northern Ireland, this figure exceeds 70%t.

The Small Business Service found that of the estimated 4.3 million enterprises in the UK at the start of 2005, 3.8 million are in England.

For each region and country in the UK, no more than 0.2% of enterprises are large – 250 or more employees –and at least 99% have up to 49 employees.

Employment patterns
The proportion of enterprises that are medium-sized – that is 50 to 249 employees – range from 0.5% per cent in the East of England, South East and South West, to 0.8% in the North East and Northern Ireland).

The differences in employment patterns between regions can be explained partly by differing industry compositions.

London has 33% of businesses in financial intermediation and business services, the highest proportion of all regions.

But it has less than 1% of agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing. Northern Ireland conversely has the lowest proportion of financial businesses and the highest proportion of agricultural businesses.

At the start of 2003 the number of UK enterprises was 4 million and rose to 4.3 million at the start of 2005. All regions saw growth in the number of businesses over the period.

England grew from 3.5 million enterprises at the start of 2003 to 3.8 million at the start of 2005, an increase of 8.5%.

The North West grew the most out of all regions from 387,000 businesses in 2003 to 437,000 businesses in 2005, an increase of 13.1%. Wales grew the least out of all regions from 172,000 businesses in 2003 to 175,000 businesses in 2005, an increase of 1.8%.

Employment in UK enterprises was 22.1 million at the start of 2005.

Most regions saw increases or no change in employment over the period, but four regions (North East, North West, East Midlands and London) saw decreases.

The East of England had the largest increase in employment from 2.1 million to 2.3 million, an increase of 8.5%. IT