Incorporated companies in the UK July to September 2020

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This release provides information about the population of companies in the United Kingdom. A company is defined as a specific legal form of business formed under the Companies Act 2006. Companies are registered at Companies House regardless of whether they go on to trade actively. Further information on companies and the Companies Act 2006 is provided in the document Definitions to accompany statistical releases.

The statistics in this release include the total number of registered companies, the number of newly incorporated companies and the number of companies that were dissolved. The release focusses on the headline messages for the UK. Figures for the constituent countries are contained in the supplementary tables that accompany this release. The supplementary tables also contain separate figures for public companies and limited liability partnerships.

Key points

  • In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a set of easements were announced by Companies House on 16 April 2020. They included the temporary pause of the strike off process (voluntary and compulsory) to give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak the time they needed to update their records filed with Companies House and help them avoid being struck off the register. The impact of this announcement was that compulsory dissolutions from 2 April onwards were temporarily paused, as was the final stage of voluntary dissolutions.

  • On 10 September 2020 the voluntary strike off process resumed via a phased release over 4 weeks through the remainder of September and into October, the latter of which will be covered by the next quarterly release. This will remove all companies that applied to be struck off before July 2020 and includes some companies that filed for dissolution before the UK wide coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown began in March 2020.

  • At the end of September 2020, there were 4,633,649 companies on the total register and 4,237,955 on the effective register. Both the total register and the effective register saw growth greater than pre-COVID-19 levels during the third quarter of 2020. This was partly as a result of a set of easements announced by Companies House in April 2020 that was designed to complement the national response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  • Between July and September 2020, there were 221,020 new incorporations and 102,269 dissolutions in the UK.

  • The number of incorporations in the third quarter of 2020 increased by 51,269 (30.2%) compared with the same quarter of the previous year. This is the largest quarter 3 year on year increase since 2012, when quarterly breakdowns were first recorded.

  • The number of dissolutions in the third quarter of 2020 decreased by 27,526 (21.2%) compared with the third quarter of 2019. Conversely, the number of companies in the course of removal increased by 121,281 (67.0%) compared with the same period last year. This was partly as a result of a set of easements to pause strike off activity announced by Companies House in April 2020.

Incorporated companies

At the end of September 2020, there were 4,633,649 companies on the total register – which includes those in the course of dissolution and liquidation (395,694).

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Compared with the end of June 2020, the size of the total register increased by 120,257 companies (2.7%). Growth was observed in all constituent countries; England and Wales (2.8%), Scotland (1.4%) and Northern Ireland (1.4%). This growth was driven both by a rise in the number of incorporations (25.5% ) during the period, which coincides with the national response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as a decline in the number of dissolutions, as a result of easements introduced in April 2020.

The size of the total register increased by 353,677 companies (8.3%) in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the third quarter of 2019. This represents the largest year on year quarterly increase since 2012, when quarterly breakdowns were first recorded.

At the end of September 2020, the number of companies on the effective register – which excludes those in the course of dissolution or liquidation – was 4,237,955. Compared with the end of June 2020, this was an increase of 137,632 companies (3.4%). Again, this was driven both by high growth in the number of incorporations and a decline in the number of dissolutions, as a result of easements introduced in April 2020.

The effective register increased in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter of 2019, rising by 229,620 (5.7%).

Both the total and effective registers have consistently increased since 2012.

Chart 1: UK total and effective register sizes, 2012 quarter 1 to 2020 quarter 3

Source: Incorporated Companies in the UK, July to September 2020, Companies House

Between July and September 2020, there were 221,020 incorporations and 102,269 dissolutions in the UK.

In contrast with the last 2 years, the number of incorporations in the third quarter of 2020 were higher when compared with the previous quarters of 2020.

The number of incorporations during the third quarter of 2020 increased by 51,269 (30.2%) compared with the same quarter of 2019. This is the largest quarter 3 year on year increase since 2012. All months in quarter 3 2020 showed increases over the same months in the previous year.

The number of incorporations has continued to increase gradually over time. There were 92,818 more incorporations in the third quarter of 2020 than in the first quarter of 2012, representing an increase of over two thirds (72.4%).

Following on from the introduction of easements in April 2020 and the subsequent phased release of paused voluntary dissolutions which began on 10 September 2020, the number of dissolutions during the third quarter of 2020 decreased by 27,526 (21.2%) compared with the same quarter of 2019.

Due to the restarting of the strike-off process for voluntary dissolutions, the number of dissolutions in September 2020 accounted for 96.3% (98,482) of all quarter 3 dissolutions. The remaining 3.7% of dissolutions that took place in this quarter were the result of other routes to dissolution and delays in the strike off process.

The number of companies in the course of removal increased by 121,281 (67.0%) in the third quarter of 2020. Again, this owed to the easement measures introduced by Companies House as part of the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Chart 2: UK total incorporations and dissolutions, 2012 quarter 1 to 2020 quarter 3

Source: Incorporated Companies in the UK, July to September 2020, Companies House

A full breakdown of figures for England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole is provided in the Excel workbook that accompanies this release. Figures are provided on both a quarterly and annual basis from 2011.

Other statistics in this release

In addition to the tables covering register activity for all companies, a range of other statistics are included in the tables that accompany this release. These tables provide information at the individual country level and for the UK as a whole. The tables cover the following:

  • register activity for public companies

  • register activity for limited liability partnerships (LLPs)

  • company insolvencies and liquidations

  • removals from the register

Background notes

This section provides a range of information designed to provide the user with more information about the statistics.

Definitions

A separate document Definitions to accompany statistical releases is available, providing definitions for the main terms used in Companies House official statistics publications.

Coverage

This release provides information on the size of the company population and the changes that have occurred within the quarter. The release includes statistics for the UK, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. The statistics cover companies, which are specific legal forms of businesses that are registered at Companies House. They do not include information on sole proprietorship businesses, partnerships, or charities.

Use and users

Companies House statistics are used extensively by government, the public, public bodies and businesses. For example, they are used by:

  • government in understanding the likely impact of policy changes and monitoring the impact of economic changes on companies

  • businesses in understanding their market share and planning marketing strategies

  • banks in developing an understanding of their customer base

  • foreign firms in making UK location decisions

  • academics to inform research into businesses at local and national level

  • a range of public bodies in decision making and evaluating business-related policies

Revisions to these statistics

Revisions to these statistics will be mainly due to changes in methodologies and source data. The statistics are derived from administrative data, and changes to the underlying methods will cause revisions. These include changes in statistical methods, definitions, classifications, and geographic coverage.

Although Companies House has robust procedures in place to minimise errors in the methods used to create these statistics, errors may occasionally occur. If errors are found after the publication, their impact will be assessed. If the changes are significant, a correction will be issued as soon as possible. Minor corrections will be included in the next planned release.

Any misleading or incorrect figures will be amended and a footnote added to indicate that the figures have been corrected. The nature and reason for the correction will be explained.

Date of next release

Annual statistics for the financial year of 2020/21 will be published on 24 June 2021.

Statistics for the period 1 October to 31 December 2020 will be published on 28 January 2021.

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