The UK’s army of Umbrella Company employees and flexible freelancers from the professional contracting community have helped to bring the country ‒ with Germany ‒ to the top of the European league table for ‘high growth’ companies, new data from international contractors’ tax advisory company Von Essen reveals.

Germany pipped the UK to top place with 32,352 high growth firms (businesses that have expanded their headcounts by more than 10% over the last year). Despite the fact that Germany has a far larger workforce, the UK came second with 22,615.

The study notes that high growth companies in the UK are generally larger than in Germany, with the result that the number of roles they have created (2.57 million) almost matches Germany’s 2.68 million. At 8.1%, the UK has the highest percentage of the total workforce working for high growth companies in all the major European economies, including Germany at 6.3%.

The report attributes the UK’s success to its flexible working practices and focus on high growth areas. Von Essen partner Lydia Marref said that while Germany’s high-quality manufacturing sector and famed ‘Mittelstand’ of small and medium-sized enterprises had been a “powerhouse of Europe” in recent years, the UK’s flexible working practises had made it easier for businesses to grow.

She added: “The UK also edges Germany in success in high-growth sectors, such as the IT and technology industries. The UK has also given a green light to shale gas exploration, another source of high skill jobs, whereas Germany has imposed a ban on shale gas exploration expected to last into the next decade.”

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