The number of micro-businesses in Blackpool has increased slightly over the past year, figures show.
Between March 2017-18, 55 local micro businesses sprang up in Blackpool – defined as employers of fewer than 10 people.
That’s an increase of two per cent – bucking the UK-wide trend, where the number of micro businesses has fractionally decreased.
Office of National Statistics data shows that the compact companies made up 88 per cent of all the VAT or PAYE-registered businesses in Blackpool. That is just under the UK average of 89 per cent.
Across England, there were more than two million micro-businesses active in March 2018.
Out of the 3,445 micro-businesses in Blackpool, 85 per cent had fewer than five employees.
Tim Vorley, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Sheffield, says that a large increase in the number of micro-businesses could be down to a push of start-up initiatives in local areas. Blackpool Council has its Blackpool Unlimited and Get Started initiatives to help people launch and sustain their own businesses.
According to Professor Vorley, a rise in micro-business numbers could “go both ways” for the local economy. He said: “It could demonstrate vibrancy within the economy and a strong local entrepreneurial culture.
"On the flip side, how many of these businesses will go on to fail after they’ve been created? We need to look at business survival rates, and focus on ensuring longevity and growth.”
The figures include VAT or PAYE-registered businesses based in the area, so they represent local independent businesses and head offices rather than branches of UK-wide chains.
Businesses with a turnover of above £85,000 must register for VAT, although a small number may choose to register voluntarily, and all employers must register for PAYE. Self-employed people are not counted in the figures.
Jordan Marshall, policy development manager at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, said: “People in local communities really value micro-businesses, like independent, family-run shops.
“Remote working means you can operate a business from anywhere.
“You’re not dependent on large employers, and you can have clients anywhere in the world.”
The Federation of Small Businesses said that “more encouragement is needed to make sure more people can start and grow a business”.
Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Despite rising costs and flagging consumer demand, we still have an increasing number of people taking the brave, exciting step of starting a small business.”