Family firms ‘vital to economy’

New research has revealed that family firms make vast contributions to the UK economy, as they employ over 11.9 million people.

There are more than 470,000 family-run firms in the wholesale, retail trade and repairs sector, making up one in 10 of all family business in the UK. They also make up 87 per cent of all private sector firms in the UK.

The research, by Oxford Economics for the Institute for Family Business (IFB) Research Foundation, also found that since 2013, family businesses have increased employment by six per cent and turnover has increased by two per cent to £1.3 trillion.

Family firms also paid £125 billion in taxes and contributed a quarter (26 per cent) of the UK’s GDP.

Around half (49 per cent) of SME family firms stated that they aim to grow and expand over the next 12 months.

Just under half (43 per cent) said they plan to invest in improving the skills of their workforce to support growth, and a third said they plan to boost productivity through investment in new machinery and premises.

Others are looking to diversify their business, with 42 per cent saying they plan to move to new markets and 37 per cent developing and launching new products and services.

Peter Armitage (pictured), chairman of the IFB, said: “The report sheds light on the sheer size and scale of the family business community. It’s an important reminder of how vital family-run firms are to the UK – serving as the backbone of our economy, with family firms making a phenomenal contribution across all sectors, industries and regions.

“Family businesses have always been at the very heart of the UK economy and based on the steady rise in their recruitment and turnover, it is clear they are here to stay. It’s encouraging to see family firms with such a buoyant attitude towards their future expansion – almost half of family SMEs expect to grow over the next two to three years.”