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Business Demography

The information below relates to the Office for National Statistics' Business Demography publication. The aim is to draw attention to interesting or unique aspects of the data so that users are well informed.


This information is also available in PDF format.

Data Sources and Suitability


Business Demography is an annual publication produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It provides information about business births and deaths, the stock of active businesses and survival rates.

The publication is available from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/bus-register/business-demography/index.html


The figures are compiled from the ONS' Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR), which contains records of all businesses that are registered for VAT/PAYE in the UK. The IDBR excludes the smallest firms that operate below the VAT threshold and are not registered for PAYE.

Births are defined as businesses that have registered for VAT and/or PAYE with HMRC at any time during the relevant calendar year (and hence appeared on the IDBR).

Deaths are businesses that are no longer registered for VAT/PAYE (have moved off the IDBR).

Enterprises are included in the Scotland figures only if the enterprises are actually based in Scotland.

Geographical Availability

Data are available for all UK Government Office Regions (GORs) and the Local Authority Areas.


The Scottish VAT/PAYE registration data are the source for the business start-up rate per 10,000 resident adults.

Per 10,000 adult population is defined as per 10,000 people aged 16 or over in Scotland. Rates are based on the mid-year population of resident adults in Scotland as published by the National Records of Scotland.

Data on business start-ups as a rate per 10,000 resident adults are available at Scotland and Local Authority Area level under the Theme Business, Enterprise and Energy at http://statistics.gov.scot/


Births and deaths do not necessarily represent new businesses and business closures. 'Births' may be smaller businesses which have recently registered for VAT because their turnover has increased above the VAT threshold or because they have taken on employees and registered for PAYE. 'Deaths' could be businesses whose turnover has fallen below the VAT threshold or where one business has merged with another.

For more information on VAT thresholds, please see the HMRC website.

Quality Assurance

The Business Demography publication is produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and are National Statistics. Business Demography is produced to the high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure they meet customer needs.

Data Available

For Scotland, data are available at the national level and local authority area level only. For the UK as a whole, data is also available broken down by Standard Industrial Classification 2007 (SIC 2007) group.

Timeliness of Data

Business Demography is published annually. There is an approximate one-year time lag between the period the data refers to and the date it is published.


Data for the previous two years may be subject to revision in each release.

This is because, on the IDBR, an enterprise may appear to cease trading and then reappear at a later date e.g. if an old VAT scheme is de-registered and there is a delay in activating the new one, or if turnover drops below zero but increases at a later date. In order to prevent distortion in the figures, those businesses that 'reactivate' on the register within two years of death are treated as if they have continued to trade throughout the period.


The business start-up rate is calculated as a rate per 10,000 resident adults. The statistical release that accompanies Business Demography also refers to rates, however, these are based on VAT/PAYE registrations as a proportion of the active business stock and are different to the population-based rates.

Business Demography includes estimates of the stock of businesses in each region for each year. These are based on the number of businesses that were registered for VAT/PAYE at any time throughout the reference year. This differs from Businesses in Scotland which provides estimates of the business stock at a particular point in time (March) each year.

Links to Data

ONS Business Demography: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/bus-register/business-demography/index.html

Business start-up rates per 10,000 resident adults are available at Scotland and Local Authority Area level under the Theme Business, Enterprise and Energy at http://statistics.gov.scot/