The number of private sector businesses in the UK has hit 5.4 million, a new record.

According to Government figures, there has been a net increase of 146,000 businesses in the past year, taking into account all start-ups, closures, takeovers and mergers. It means more businesses have started than closed.

The Business Population Estimates also show the number of businesses that employ people has grown for the second year running, with 35,000 more at the start of 2015 than in 2014.

Small businesses continue to make up 99.3% of all businesses and generate over £1 trillion turnover for the UK’s economy.

There has also been an increase in the number of medium-sized businesses, which employ between 50 and 249 people, with 1,000 more of these firms at the start of 2015 than in 2014.

The figures also show there are 7,000 large businesses in the UK that employ over 10 million people and make a significant contribution to the economy (£2 trillion turnover).

The overall business population includes 3.3 million sole proprietors (62% of the total), 1.6 million companies (30%) and 436,000 ordinary partnerships (8%).

Business minister Anna Soubry said: “It’s fantastic news there are now a record number of businesses in the UK, creating jobs and ensuring our country’s economic security.”

She added: “Our long-term economic plan has helped create the conditions for businesses to start, grow and flourish. But with risks in the global economy, this government is determined to continue to back our businesses and grow our economy.”

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