• Access and hire global talent & deploy them anywhere in the world
  • Remove restriction from only hiring from local markets
  • Enter any international market without the requirement of opening a local entity

Global expansion is a step for any business, regardless of your goal and expanding into the UK– which is characterised by a well-educated workforce, favourable but complex employment and tax laws, high-quality logistics and infrastructure network, and the reputation of one of Europe’s most flexible labour markets, with leading sectors in finance, information technology and manufacturing – can bring excitement to the possibilities, but also significant stress to ensuring the entity with the country’s rigid legal structures and laws. Ensuring compliance without sufficient knowledge of the country’s laws also adds stress to getting your new entity off the ground and ready to test new markets. Going at it without the proper support can increase the costs, time and risks involved.

As one of the world’s largest national economies with a broad scale of new business opportunities, the United Kingdom is the perfect fit for your expansion move. However, Brexit did make expansion into the UK a bit more complex. The UK is renowned for its progressive vision and was amongst the instigators of the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century. Although Brexit initiated a turbulent period, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union is expected to turn the tide and lead to a rapidly growing and robust economy. With London as one of the world’s largest financial centres and a strong Services Industry led by Financial Services, the UK offers a market full of opportunities for your company to thrive.

The opportunities that can come with an expansion can be both incredibly exciting as well as intimidating and confusing, especially when you consider all of the registration procedures that need to be done and the documentation required. This can be worked through efficiently and cost-effectively with the support of an international Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) such as Bradford Jacobs, especially through our Employer of Record (EOR) framework. This can be best utilised when businesses are just beginning their expansion process and require more information before committing to incorporating an entity and fully establishing themselves in that market.

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United Kingdom – The Economy

The UK’s long history of being a globalised economy, largely market-oriented and a social market – combines a capitalist ecosystem with social policy reforms. The country has been ranked as the 9th most competitive market in the world out of 140 countries, according to the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report, which the World Economic Forum publishes.

The UK can be characterised as a world-renowned business, which includes a highly educated workforce, attractive tax rates and incentives, and low labour and administration costs. The UK’s GDP in 2020 amounted to approximately £1.96 trillion, taking a hit from the previous year, which amounted to about £2.17 trillion.

The country has a long history of being an international trading economy at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Solid commercial services, communications, manufacturing sectors, and high-quality logistics and infrastructure create an attractive environment for any business owner seeking to expand their business.

However, The UK also has its sights set on preparing for the future, embracing innovation, sustainable consumption, and technological modernisation to reach a net zero economy whilst maintaining its strengths.

There are several options for businesses to trade worldwide in both simple and affordable ways. The UK’s geographical position benefits from access to diverse marketplaces in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania. Trading in the UK opens businesses to over 70 airports, 40 major ports, and the 4th most extensive rail network in Europe, which links major cities to mainland Europe via the world-class Eurostar rail service.

Expanding into the UK

Small and Medium-sized Companies

In the UK, there are 5.58 million businesses in the private sector. SMEs account for 99.9% of that total, employing less than 250 employees. 

SMEs account for three-fifths of local employment, engaging around 61% of the total labour workforce, which amounts to about 16.3 million people. 

SMEs turnover in 2021 amounts to an estimated £2.3 million, which is around half of the turnover in the UK private sector. Small and medium businesses significantly impact the economy, with their contributions increasing yearly.
Starting a Business in the UK
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK)
No. of Regions/States
The UK is an island nation on the island of Great Britain, part of the island of Ireland, and other small islands.

It is made up of 4 constituent countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Principal Cities
London (England's capital), Cardiff (Wales' capital), Edinburgh (Scotland's capital), Belfast (Northern Ireland's capital), plus Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bristol, Glasgow, Leicester, Leeds, and Manchester.
Local Currency
GBP (British Pounds)
Major Religion (2021-22 census)
UK as a whole: Christianity (46.2%) - No religion (37.2%) - Islam (6.5%) - Hinduism (1.7%)

  • England: Christianity (46.3% - of which Church of England 47% and Roman Catholic 9.6%) - No religion (36.7%) - Islam (6.7%) - Hinduism (1.8%)

  • Wales: No religion (46.5%) - Christianity (43.6%) - Islam (2.2%) - Hinduism (0.4%)

  • Scotland (2011 Census): Christianity (53.8% - of which Church of Scotland 32.4%, and Roman Catholic 15.9%) - Islam (1.4%) - Hinduism (0.3%).

  • Northern Ireland: Christianity (79.7% - of which Catholic Church 42.3% - Presbyterian 16.6%, and Church of Ireland 11.5%) - No religion (17.4%)
  • Date Format
    Time Zone
    UTC (Greenwich Mean Time, WET) and UTC+1 (British Summer Time, WEST)
    Country Dial Code
    Population (2022 est.)
    67.8 million
    Border Countries
    The Republic of Ireland (499 km - 310 mi), and France via the Channel Tunnel.
    Tax Year
    6th April - 5th April of the following year
    VAT %
    National Living Wage
    GBP 10.18/h (until April 2023) - GBP 10.42/h (from April 2023)
    Taxpayer Identification Numbers
    Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) / Company registration number (CRN)
    Leading Sectors - % of the GDP
    Services 71.5% - Industry 17.5% - Manufacturing 9% - Agriculture 0.7%
    Main imports (2021)
    Pearls, precious stones, metals, coins (12%), Machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers (12%), Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products (10%), Vehicles other than railway, tramways (9.1%), and Electrical, electronic equipment (9%).
    Main exports (2021)
    Machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers (15%), Pearls, precious stones, metals, coins (14%), Vehicles other than railway, tramways (8.6%), Mineral fuels, oils, distillation products (8%), and Electrical, electronic equipment (5.7%).
    Main trading partners (2021)
    Main Suppliers: China (13%), Germany (11%), the USA (8.8%), the Netherlands (6.2%), and Norway (5.3%).

    Main Customers: the USA (13%), Germany (9.2%), Switzerland (8.9%), the Netherlands (8.3%), Ireland (6.5%), and France (5.9%).
    Government Type
    Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
    Current Monarch/PM
    Monarch: Charles III (since September 2022)

    PM: Rishi Sunak (since October 2022)

    The Main Sectors of the British Economy

    The country focuses on the following key sectors, which all have a significant influence on the country’s economy:

    Finance: This sector contributed about GBP 132 million to the economy in 2018 and employed over 24,000 people. The United Kingdom is Europe’s most significant financial hub, with over GBP 4 trillion in assets. Some of the largest financial companies in the world, such as Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst and Young (EY), and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), have offices in London, with the industry employing over 24,000 people.

    Construction: This sector is one of the central pillars of the UK’s economy. It contributes to most jobs (approximately 1 million employees) and the largest gross value (about GBP 138 billion annually). This industry not only encompasses building construction, but also fulfilling maintenance, repair, and the completion of new building and infrastructure construction contracts.

    Agriculture: Farming plays a crucial role in the overall UK economy, contributing an estimated GBP 9.4 million in 2020. About 60% of the food eaten in the UK is locally grown.

    Travel & Tourism: According to the Office of National Statistics, the tourism industry contributed over 28.4 billion pounds to the UK economy in 2019. The industry’s impact on the economy is strong, with currently over 33,000 people employed. Travel and Tourism is the fastest-growing sector in the country and now accounts for 11.9% of all jobs, which is ahead of both financial services (8.9%) and banking (3.4%).

    Manufacturing: The manufacturing industry has been essential to the economy’s health since the Industrial Revolution. It currently employs about 2.7 million people and accounts for about 45% of total exports, which totals around GBP 275 billion.
    SMEs in the UK
    Hiring in the UK

    Energy: It is one of the largest industries in the United Kingdom, indirectly employing approx. 450,000 people, with almost half of them being located in Scotland. Experts are expecting a substantial increase within the next few years.

    Media: The media industry in the UK includes film, music, and entertainment, which is worth over GBP 68 billion. The sector also employs over 2 million people, most located outside London.

    Fashion: This sector has experienced struggles over the last few years, but it is now experiencing steady growth. According to the British Fashion Council, it employs 55,000 and contributes over GBP 32 billion a year.

    Food and Drink: This includes the overall agri-food sector, such as wholesale, manufacturing, and retail. This sector accounts for over 400,000 direct jobs, over GBP 29.5 billion in manufacturing, and 30 billion in retailing.

    Labour Contracts Law in the UK

    General Requirements

    In the UK, an employment contract is not required to be concluded in writing. Still, the law does oblige the employer to provide the employee with a written statement that includes specific information regarding the terms of their employment:

    • Personal/contact information about both parties
    • Job title of the employee
    • The date of the commencement of the employment relationship
    • Salary and payment intervals
    • The place of work and the registered address of the business
    • The hours of work and information about working patterns
    • Holiday, sick pay, and other paid leave entitlements
    • Notice period and probationary period provisions
    • Disciplinary and grievance policies
    • Training entitlements

    Tax and Labour Authorities

    Tax Authorities

    HM Revenue and Customs – this department handles all UK tax and national insurance systems.

    Social Security Advisory Committee – an advisory non-departmental public body, which the Department of Work and Pensions sponsors. It provides impartial advice on social security and other related matters.

    Labour Authorities

    The Health and Safety Executive – is the UK’s national regulator for the health and safety of the workplace.

    The Pensions Advisory Service – is an executive non-departmental public body which offers information and guidance to the public on personal, company and state pensions.


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