Hidden Britain: Survey reveals 98% of people underestimate the scale of Small Businesses in the UK

Press release 16 November 2017

British Business Bank launches ‘Small Wonders’ campaign

  • Only 2% of respondents realise small businesses make up 99% of total UK businesses
  • Four in five (81%) significantly underestimate the economic contribution small businesses make to the UK
  • The British Business Bank has launched a campaign to highlight the contribution of small businesses – shining a light on the nation’s Small Wonders

The British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank, today announces the launch of its ‘Small Wonders’ campaign, designed to showcase and celebrate the huge contribution of small businesses to the UK economy and society. To launch the campaign, new polling from ICM, the independent research company – commissioned by British Business Bank – reveals the extent to which the presence and contribution of the UK’s small businesses go unrecognised by the public.

Small businesses make up 99.3% of the total UK business population. 98% of the survey respondents underestimated this share, however, with three in four thinking that small businesses accounted for fewer than 60% of the UK’s business population.

The contribution of small businesses to UK private sector turnover is also vastly undervalued. Only one in five (21%) correctly identified their £1.3 trillion, or 33%, contribution to UK private sector turnover. All other respondents thought small businesses’ economic contribution was lower.

The Small Wonders campaign ends on 1 December 2017, ahead of the annual Small Business Saturday on 2 December. For social channels, the campaign hashtag is #SmallBizWonders.

The British Business Bank turned three years old at the start of November. We want to raise awareness of the incredible achievements of small businesses and reflect on their enormous contribution to our economy and society. They are Small Wonders and we encourage the public and our partners to get involved in recognising their importance. Keith Morgan CEO of the British Business Bank
Small firms are undoubtedly the unsung heroes of UK society. It’s critical that we rally UK-wide support for small business owners and the self-employed so they can go on contributing more than £1 trillion to the economy annually. With Small Business Saturday fast approaching, these entrepreneurs need the support of shoppers as they face a tough trading environment. Mike Cherry National Chairman, The Federation of Small Businesses
  • For this survey, a small business is defined as a business with 1-49 employees.
  • The survey was carried out using ICM Unlimited Litmus Omnibus, with online interviews taking place from 3 November to 5 November 2017. ICM Unlimited interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,023 adults in Great Britain.

Further Information

Notes to editors

About the British Business Bank

The British Business Bank is the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Our remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.

British Business Bank programmes are supporting £3.4bn of finance to over 59,000 smaller businesses, and participating in a further £5.8bn of finance to 86 mid-cap businesses (as at March 2017).

As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options, including bank loans and asset finance, available to smaller businesses. 

British Business Bank plc is a limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield S1 2GQ.

As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, it is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates under its own brand name through a number of subsidiaries, one of which is authorised and regulated by the FCA.

British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. More information, including a legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries, can be found on the British Business Bank website.