Small businesses have shed staff while the surge in one-person ventures has continued unabated, official business population figures show.
Despite Coalition tax incentives and deregulation policies designed to encourage small businesses to hire more people, the figures show a year-on-year fall in those firms employing between one and 50 people at the start of 2011 and a rise of 123,000 in the number with no employees.
The Treasury had hoped its national insurance holiday for start-ups employing up to 10 people would encourage as many as 400,000 businesses to grow quickly. But David Cameron yesterday told the Commons that so far only 7,000 had taken up the incentive, worth up to £50,000 to each firm.
Figures published last week also showed a fall in VAT registered firms whose turnover is more than £73,000 a year. The estimates suggest that the rise in the total business stock – up 94,000 or 2pc to 4.5m – was driven largely by very small ventures that generate little additional employment.
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Prof Philip Booth was also quoted in today's CityAM calling for red tape to be cut.