Inter Departmental Business Register Statistics 2017 published

Date published: 31 January 2018

The IDBR is a central register of all businesses which are registered for VAT and/or operating a PAYE scheme. The IDBR covers most of the economy including the Agriculture, Production and Service sectors in Northern Ireland.

Each year a snapshot of the IDBR is taken to produce statistics on the characteristics, structure and location of Northern Ireland businesses, along with statistics on business demography (births, deaths and survival) and foreign ownership. Key points from the statistical bulletin are listed below.

The IDBR, and the resulting bulletin, does not include very small businesses which fall below the VAT threshold (£83,000 in 2016/2017) or do not operate a PAYE scheme. Latest figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) indicate that at the start of 2017 the number of unregistered businesses in Northern Ireland was approximately 65,000.

Key points:

The number of Northern Ireland businesses increased over the year to 2017. This marks the third consecutive year of increase following a period of decline from 2008 to 2014.

  • The number of VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses in Northern Ireland in 2017 is estimated to have risen by 1,560 (2.2%) since 2016 to 71,615. The number of businesses in the UK increased by 4.5% in the same period.
  • The Northern Ireland business growth rate in 2017 was higher than Scotland (1.6%) but lower than Wales (2.7%) and England (4.8%).
  • The number of businesses in 2017 in Northern Ireland remains 1.1% below the 2008 level (72,445 businesses).

The increase in the number of businesses over the year was largely driven by the construction industry

  • The number of VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses in the construction industry increased by 355 businesses (3.8%) over the year to 2017. This was the largest increase of all industry groups over this time period.
  • Although the number of businesses in the construction industry group has increased for two consecutive years, the 2017 total remains more than 20% (2,590 businesses) below its 2009 level.

All Northern Ireland Local Government Districts saw an increase in the number of businesses over the year to 2017

  • Whilst all Northern Ireland Local Government Districts saw an increase in the number of VAT and/or PAYE registered businesses from 2016 to 2017, Mid Ulster and Newry, Mourne and Down experienced the largest increases (+260 and +235 businesses respectively).
  • The smallest increases over the year were seen in Mid and East Antrim (+70 businesses) and Fermanagh and Omagh (+90 businesses)

2.3% of businesses operating in Northern Ireland in 2017 were non-NI owned

  • Of the 71,615 businesses operating in Northern Ireland in March 2017, 1,635 (2.3%) had a non-Northern Ireland country of ownership. However, this small proportion of businesses accounted for almost one quarter (23.6%) of Northern Ireland employees.
  • The proportion of businesses operating in Northern Ireland with a non-Northern Ireland country of ownership has remained relatively unchanged over recent years, ranging between 2.3% and 2.4% of all businesses operating since 2013.
  • The majority of non-Northern Ireland owned businesses had a country of ownership of Great Britain (44.3%) or the Republic of Ireland (19.6%). The United States of America accounted for 11.3%, whilst 40 other countries accounted for the remaining 24.8%.

Northern Ireland continues on a trend of incorporation

Northern Ireland has seen an increase in incorporation in recent years. There were 8,780 more companies in 2017 than in 2007. In contrast the number of sole proprietors has decreased by 7,500 over the same period. The proportions of partnerships and limited partnerships, non profit bodies and local authorities in Northern Ireland have remained relatively unchanged over recent years.

Commentary

  • The number of businesses (71,615) in Northern Ireland increased by 2.2% (1,560 businesses) over the year to 2017. This marks the third consecutive year of growth following a period of decline from 2008 to 2014.
  • The increase over the year was largely driven by increases in the Construction (+355 businesses), Production (+260 businesses) and Professional, scientific and technical (+165 businesses) industry groups. Together, the increases in these three industry groups accounted for half of the total increase experienced over the year.
  • The number of businesses in 2017 was 5.8% (3,905 businesses) higher than the recent low experienced in 2014 (67,710 businesses). Similarly, this increase was largely driven by increases in Agriculture, forestry and fishing (+890 businesses), Professional, scientific and technical (+590 businesses) and Production (+560 businesses). Together, the increases in these three industry groups accounted for over half (52.2%) of the increase since 2014.
  • Despite the increases over the past three years, the number of businesses in 2017 remains 1.1% below the 2008 level (72,445 businesses).

Notes to editors: 

  1. The IDBR contains information on all businesses in the United Kingdom which are either VAT registered or operating a PAYE scheme. The register is located in the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Newport but the Northern Ireland element of the register is updated and maintained by the Economic and Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMSB) within the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), an agency of the Department of Finance (DoF).
  2. The IDBR covers most of the economy including the Agriculture, Production and Service sectors in Northern Ireland. It does not, however, include very small businesses which fall below the VAT threshold (£83,000 in 2016/2017) or do not operate a PAYE scheme. This means that many self-employed workers will not be included on the IDBR. Latest figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which include an estimate of the number of unregistered businesses in the private sector, indicate that at the start of 2017 the number of unregistered businesses in Northern Ireland was 64,695 (58,545 in 2016).
  3. Full report is available on the NISRA website
  4. For media enquiries, please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Outside office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623974383 and your call will be returned.
  5. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to:

Responsible statistician:

Neil Mulhern,

Economic and Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS),

neil.mulhern@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 90 255196.

Follow ELMS on Twitter - @ELMSNISRA

 

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