By Daniel Hunter

Official figures released today (Wednesday) show that the number of private sector businesses in the UK increased significantly to 4.8 million at the start of 2012 — a record high.

This is an increase on last year’s figures, which showed there were 4.5 million businesses in the UK at the start of 2011.

The statistics, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, also show:

- The 4.8 million private sector businesses employed an estimated 23.9 million people and had an estimated turnover of £3,100 billion

- Of the 4.8 million private sector businesses, 99.9 per cent of them were small and medium sized enterprises.
- Small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) also account for 59.2 per cent of private sector employment and 48.8 per cent of private sector turnover.

“Today’s figures show that we now have a record number of private sector businesses in the UK. We have always said that private sector is central to healing and rebalancing our economy and this increase is another encouraging sign," Business Minister Michael Fallon said.

“We know that our entrepreneurs drive growth, so we will continue to do everything we can to help unleash and unlock entrepreneurs’ potential. The additional tax relief for angel investment, reforms to employment law, investment in business mentoring and further cuts in red tape are just some of the actions government is taking to create a better business environment.”

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