CEO Blog – Making the case for employee ownership has never been more important

As the UK takes its first gentle steps towards recovery, it is more important than ever that the role and relevance of employee ownership to society and the economy is understood and respected – especially by those with influence who have the power and opportunity to assist in its growth.

Therefore, whilst the EOA team works hard to deliver activity that enables engagement, networking and learning between members, our other major priority remains that of representing your interests and campaigning for more employee ownership.

In this regard, throughout lockdown and now, as we move beyond, we are focused on a small number of key interventions.

Firstly, given the importance of the Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) model, we will continue to contribute to various debates about how to maintain its integrity.

An immediate priority is our response to the recently announced consultation by the Office of Tax Simplification of Capital Gains Tax (CGT).  Whilst the EOA does not promote the use of the EOT purely for tax reasons, the CGT exemption remains an important incentive for the awareness raising and take up of employee ownership, especially by business owners planning their succession and as a route to sustaining businesses and jobs.

The longer term opportunity to ensure that employee ownership is viewed as an enabler of more resilient, productive and inclusive business will also be the focus of our submission to the BEIS Committee’s Post Pandemic Economic Growth Inquiry and the planned 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review, both due before the Autumn.

Other routes to influence, especially regarding ensuring employee ownership is part of the ‘Build Back Better’ agenda is through our valued partnerships.  In the last month this approach has seen us support think tank Ownership at Work as it submitted the new idea of a Partnership Fund to support the post-pandemic cash flow of the UK’s SMEs to UK government and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales.  We are also currently in discussion with other national partners to explore how we might collaborate with them to submit other innovative ideas to government to stimulate recovery packages with more employee ownership solutions.

Finally, another important partnership for the EOA is with Coops UK, as we collaborate to plan delivery of awareness and capacity building interventions on a place-specific basis to simulate both employee and worker ownership, in direct support of stronger regions and the government’s commitment to ‘levelling up’.

All this work is underpinned by evidence and data about the sector, including case study-based stories of success.  That is why our recent call out to our members to complete this year’s White Rose Employee Ownership Centre survey is more important than ever. Your individual submission will help to build a strong evidence base of the statistics of the sector, as well as helping to uncover a sense of what makes a good employee owned business, how governance has developed and the wider impacts that employee owned businesses deliver to their employees and the regions in which they are based.

The EOA is proud to lead in our role of connecting members, campaigning for the sector and celebrating the impact of employee ownership.  However, it is your support, voice and encouragement that enables us to do this – thank you.