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The Hidden Economy in Great Britain

Pound Coins
Published: October 2017

From HMRC and NatCen: our research into the scale and nature of Great Britain's Hidden Economy.


The purpose of this study is to provide updated information about the nature and scale of the Hidden Economy in Great Britain, and the characteristics of those engaged in it.

You can download the full report, The Hidden Economy in Great Britain from HMRC's website.

Key findings 

  • An estimated 4.9% of the British population was found to be involved in the Hidden Economy.

These are individuals who have not declared their activity for tax purposes, but may or may not have taxable income from Hidden Economy activities.

  • An estimated 2.6% of the British population was operating in the Hidden Economy with a presumed taxable income.

This suggests that at least part of the income from their Hidden Economy activities is assumed to be taxable and should have been declared to HMRC. 

  • Participation in the Hidden Economy was highest among young adults aged 16-24, living in large and low income households who themselves had a personal income below the tax threshold. 


This quantitative research focused on individuals in Great Britain, excluding Northern Ireland.

The data was collected through telephone and face-to-face surveys.

All respondents were asked a series of screening questions to determine whether they were involved in any Hidden Economy activities and to collect demographic information.