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Government shows support for employee ownership

Government shows support for employee ownership

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 04 July 2012

Action to knock down the barriers stopping British businesses from becoming employee-owned was announced by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and Minister for Employment Relations, Norman Lamb today.

Speaking at a summit at the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed Government will act on recommendations put forward in the final report from the Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership.

Graeme Nuttall was commissioned by the Deputy Prime Minister in January 2012 to examine how to promote employee ownership in the private sector and spread the benefits into the wider economy

Responding to the Review today, Nick Clegg announced:

· An independent and expert Institute for Employee Ownership will be established to provide information and advice to: managers and employees; lawyers and accountants; business schools, researchers and Ministers. This will be a professional body, offering accreditation to its members. Founding members will include the Employee Ownership Association, Baxi Partnership, Prospects and Co-operatives UK.

· A call for evidence on how a Right to Request employee ownership could work will be launched this week. This will examine what the minimum number of employees needed to make a request should be; what fair grounds for turning a request down could be; whether requests should be allowed at any time and, crucially, whether the best way to achieve this is through a new statutory right or another mechanism. Government will report back in the autumn.

· New off-the-shelf ‘DIY packs’ for companies covering legal, tax and other regulatory considerations, to help companies adopt employee owned business models quickly and easily. This will help combat the perception that employee ownership is too difficult, time-consuming and expensive compared to more traditional routes.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said:

“Employee-owned firms have lower levels of absenteeism, higher productivity and growth rates and smaller gaps between the pay at the top and ordinary workers.

“But if we want to make employee ownership a larger slice of our economy we have to make it simpler.

“That’s why today I have announced that an Institute for Employee Ownership will be established, that there will be new off-the-shelf ‘DIY packs’ for companies to adopt the Employee Ownership business model and that we will issue a call for evidence from business and employees on how a right to request could work

“These are important steps to help get employee ownership into the bloodstream of the British economy. We won’t stop there and it won’t happen overnight but, at last, we are on our way.”

Norman Lamb said:

“Today is a key milestone in the development of what I consider a very important and growing part of the economy. Graeme’s report sets the immediate agenda and we must now respond - both in Government and the stakeholder community - to deliver the work needed to create a successful, flourishing and growing employee owned sector.

”We have already had a remarkable response from the professional bodies and representative organisations, pledging their commitment to this programme and to developing a new Institute for employee ownership. And I attach particular importance to the ‘Right to Request’ and look forward to working out the detail of this, whilst keeping it light touch and workable for employers.”

The Nuttall review found that there are three main barriers holding back the creation of more employee owned businesses:

· a lack of awareness of employee ownership;

· a lack of resources, including finance; and

· perceived or real legal, tax and regulatory complexities.

The final report sets out a range of far-reaching and challenging proposals for Government, sector representatives, employer and employee groups and professional advisers to dismantle these barriers.

Graeme Nuttall said:

“Employee ownership has proven to be a great idea. The Nuttall Report provides a framework to move this successful model into the mainstream of the economy. I am calling upon the Government to ensure implementation of all my recommendations, maintain its focus upon employee ownership and translate its support into concrete changes that make a real difference to employee owned companies and those considering employee ownership.

“Companies such as Arup and Swann-Morton have benefitted from decades of successful employee ownership, and others such as Wilkin & Sons and public sector mutuals have more recently introduced the model and are reaping the rewards. These companies are in diverse business sectors, spread geographically and of varying sizes. The benefits of employee ownership are clearly demonstrated by these many UK success stories and it is now time the wider business community appreciated what employee ownership can do for business and the growth of the UK economy.”

The Deputy Prime Minister also announced new UK figures from Co-operatives UK, which show that the UK employee-owned sector has grown at a rate of 1.1%, compared to 0.7% for the economy as a whole. As such, the growth rate for employee-owned firms is over 50% higher than the rest of the economy.

Alongside today’s announcements, the London Stock Exchange has set out plans for a new FTSE Employee Share Ownership Index.

Xavier Rolet, Chief Executive Officer, London Stock Exchange Group plc said:

“A new FTSE Employee Share Ownership Index will highlight some of the key benefits of encouraging employees to take an active interest in the future success of the companies in which they work. This new FTSE index will help raise awareness of how significant employee equity ownership can be advantageous for both companies and employees.

“London Stock Exchange Group welcomes today’s report and is delighted to be contributing to a greater understanding of how employee share ownership can help deliver growth. As part of our group, FTSE will work with Graeme Nuttall and his team to develop the Employee Share Ownership index as a fully fledged benchmark.”

Research also published today by Cass Business School shows that employee-owned businesses typically invest more in human capital and put greater emphasis on long-term growth planning than non employee-owned businesses.

They also prefer to focus on internal growth over external, by developing their own new products and extending operations to new markets, rather than acquiring new products and lines of business. This reliance on internal growth means employee owned businesses are far less dependent on external capital and more adept at using internal resources to pursue growth.

The Employee Ownership review complements the ground-breaking agenda Government is undertaking to encourage public service mutuals to spin-out from the public sector and become employee owned.

Today the Government also set out the next steps towards converting the Post Office to a mutual, bringing together those who use and work for post offices with the shared purpose of running the business for the benefit of the public.

The Government will formally respond to the Nuttall report in the autumn, setting out an action plan for implementing its recommendations.

Notes to editors:

Sharing Success: The Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership can be found at: Cass Research The Employee Ownership Advantage: Benefits and Consequences can be found at: usinesses-deliver-sustainable-performance/The Government’s response to Building a Mutual Post Office can be found at: ownership is a small but growing part of the UK economy. In 2009 there were about 200 employee-owned businesses, with a combined turnover of around £25bn. By 2011 the number had increased to 250, with a turnover of £30bn.HMT is conducting an internal review the role of employee ownership in supporting growth. This includes looking at how tax and other barriers to its take-up can be addressed. HMT will report back in the autumn statement. Employee ownership refers to the employees of a company having a significant and meaningful stake in their company and, in particular, owning shares that amount to a substantial or controlling stake. Employee ownership can take one of three forms:

- Direct employee ownership – using one or more share plans, employees become individual owners of shares in their company;

- indirect employee ownership – shares are held collectively on behalf of employees, normally through a benefit trust;

- combined direct and indirect ownership – a combination of individual and collective share ownership.

The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

· To create the most competitive tax system in the G20

· To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business

· To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy

· To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.

8. BIS's online newsroom contains the latest press notices and speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See for more information.


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