Exploring business in the UK 🇬🇧

This aims to be an interactive data article serving as a primer into business in the UK. It's inspired by the statistical bulletins from ONS and is an exploration of open data, content and libraries. Please do explore and feedback is always welcome.

1. Data Sources Table
2. What does it mean to be a business in the UK?
3. How many businesses are there?
4. Where are they?
5. Where are they?
6. Where are they?
7. Summary takeaways

This article makes use of the following data:

Source Dataset Link
NOMIS UK Business counts Source
ONS UK business: activity, size and location Source
ONS Business demography, UK Source
CDRC Business Census Source
Facebook Future of Business Survey Source

Data has been added directly so feel free to explore and inspect the code for your own analysis.

1. What does it mean to be a business in the UK?

In summary: A business is a legally recognised unit producing goods or services and usually paying taxes. They are categorised by a series of defined codes.

Being a business first invovles a type of registration or formation. There are three commons ways people go about doing this in the UK:

There are lots more businesses structures available. People choose a structure that works best for their legal needs, how they plan to operate and how many people are responsible.

Due to the variety of ways a business can operate and the need for alignment to the same concepts, the majority of UK statistics use a list called the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) to analyse businesses as a whole.

Using a number of data sources, two of the main being tax, the Office for National statistics create categories of units. As all of our data makes use of the IDBR, when we are refering to a single business in the UK we are actually refering to an enterprise unit.

An Enterprise can be defined as the smallest combination of legal units (generally based on VAT and/or PAYE records) that is an organisational unit producing goods or services. via ONS

Next we also need to consider Standard Industrial Classifications or (SIC codes). Similar to the variety of structures there are a large number of things a business can do to meet the needs of it's customers. So to capture what businesses typically do, the SIC codes are used to group economic activites.

A Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) was first introduced into the UK in 1948 for use in classifying business establishments and other statistical units by the type of economic activity in which they are engaged.via ONS

Let's explore some of these now. Press the button below to see an example SIC code and it's description.

1110,Growing of cereals (except rice), leguminous crops and oil seeds

As you can see there is a number and a description. These are organised into sections, divisions, groups and classes. The descriptions tend to be fairly self explanatory.

Complex businesses can apply multiple SICs to themselves. For example, a software firm might list themselves engaging in design, software development, professional services and more. Here's another example using a popular UK super market store:

TESCO STORES LIMITED Company number 00519500

Nature of business (SIC):

    47110 - Retail sale in non-specialised stores with food, beverages or tobacco predominating
    47290 - Other retail sale of food in specialised stores
    47710 - Retail sale of clothing in specialised stores
    47750 - Retail sale of cosmetic and toilet articles in specialised stores
via Companies House

Now that we have this understanding we can go a step further and group SIC codes. These are termed Broad Industry groups which are clustered into higher level sectors.

The chart below shows Broad Industry Groups totalling the number of SIC sections attributed inside them. These is an indication of how the UK business landscape is structured. The SIC heirarchy can be explored further here.

2. How many businesses are there?

In summary: Over 2 million. Approximately ~2,718,435.

Building on those broad industry groups, we can use the SIC data counts to find the total number of businesses. The chart below shows the number of businesses per industry group.

The data shows that the UK has prominent proffesional services, construction and ICT sectors.

3. Where are businesses located in the UK?

In summary: There is a concentration of businesses towards the south of the UK. The highest number in London with the lowest in North East.

As a quick reminder the UK is shaped liked this and split into 12 regions.

The total

4. What are the most popular business activities?

5. What do these business look like?

This is a more complex question to analyse

6. What do businesses in the UK feel?

Businesses aren't people, usually they are groups of individuals working together. However we can utilise data from the OECD and Facebook in their survey of businesses (2019). preview. This is

We have a few more details

7. What are some key takeaways?

That's it, thanks for reading. If you have feedback, please do share it. You can follow me on twitter @logikblok or you could buy me a coffee.

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