Belfast Telegraph

David Cameron welcomes business figures

David Cameron today welcomed figures suggesting that there are a record number of businesses trading in the UK.

The Department for Business and Skills estimated that there were 4.9 million private sector businesses in the country, up 102,000 since the start of 2012.

The growth was driven by a 127,000 increase in one-person businesses with no employees, while the number employing staff fell by 26,000.

The 4.9 million private sector businesses employed an estimated 24.3 million people, and had an estimated combined annual turnover of £3,300 billion.

In a message on Twitter, the Prime Minister hailed the estimate as "good news for growth and jobs".

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Today's figures are a timely reminder of the number of people willing to try their hand at business. They also show an encouraging regional story with the figures for the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber particularly positive."

And enterprise minister Matt Hancock said the figures showed Britain was "turning a corner".

"There are now 447,000 more businesses than in 2010, an increase of over 10%," said Mr Hancock.

"There is much more to do, not least to make it easier to employ people and create jobs, like with the new £2,000 Employment Allowance that from April will cut tax on jobs in every company, large and small."

The 4.9 million businesses fall almost entirely in the small and medium-sized category, with businesses employing fewer than 250 people making up 99% of the total. Those employing fewer than 50 employees make up nearly half of all businesses and account for one-third of private sector turnover.