Our manifesto for a sharing economy to benefit the UK

While the way forward politically and economically for the UK becomes so close but so far from being clear, in stark contrast the EOA’s call to action has grown in both momentum and clarity.

Our voice has been amplified through working in partnership with business organisations such as the ICAEW, FSB and IFB and through invites to share our thinking with key influencers relating to a more inclusive economy, better engaged employees driving more productivity in businesses and how employee ownership succession has a key role to play in the resilience of our regional economies.

At a time where views are polarised in the UK, employee ownership revealed its universal popularity earlier this year when Julian Richer of Richer Sounds sold a controlling stake of his business to his employees. Not one dissenting voice amongst politicians and commentators alike across redtops and broadsheets.

The only challenge is the how, and the very real danger of the need for the sharing of ownership and its benefit are diluted from not having a clear and documented policy.

So, as all parties focus on their manifestos ahead of an inevitable, yet untimetabled general election, the very real prospect of no one party having a majority, has spurred us to be ready and prepared with our own manifesto. A manifesto that promises a sharing economy that also prepares the UK for future social and economic challenges.

And while the credentials of the next government remains unknown, during the unwavering uncertainty of the past three years, the credibility of employee and worker ownership as social and economic enabler has become better understood, more respected and more wide spread.

This is not just through the findings of the Ownership Dividend report but also through high profile transition such as Aardman AnimationsRiverford Organics and Richer Sounds adopting the EOT (Employee Ownership Trust) model that was introduced by the Government in 2014.

Also, during this time, employee owned businesses have continued to outperform their non EO rivals, for example the Top 50 Employee Owned Businesses (by size) showed a mean increase in productivity of 7.7% against the UK growth in productivity of 0.5%.

So to capitalise on the best impacts possible from increasing the number of employee owned businesses in the UK, we are calling on any new government to read and adopt our manifesto for a national strategy on employee ownership. It is backed by evidence, worked examples and new and progressive thinking on how to support the better sharing of wealth, for now and for the future.

Five years on since the government’s introduction of the EOT, 250 businesses have transitioned to employee ownership at the point of succession via an EOT. Transitions to employee ownership via an EOT are now growing by 30% a year.

However, without investment in the supporting ecosystem to drive awareness and knowledge amongst business owners, accountants and in the finance market, the benefit of much more significant growth of employee ownership will struggle to be fully realised. Plus without adopting new thinking and making employee ownership attractive to businesses of all sizes, including both public and private business, the economy will miss out on delivering an increase in three key areas of opportunities – more engaged employees who can build their individual wealth, who in turn drive better business performance and contribute to improved regional resilience.

Our national strategy incorporates:

Increasing ownership and wealth – through the introduction of more incentives and models employee ownership in the UK there will be an increase in the voluntary uptake of employee ownership in businesses of all sizes and types of business which in turn will enable the sharing of the rewards of labour more equally amongst more workers and employees.

Better productivity via engaged employees – through developing new codes of practice and the relevant supporting tools and resources – based on the practise of successful employee owned businesses, that benefit from employee involvement in corporate governance – that will guide new and future employee owned businesses to be more transparent and generate higher levels of trust and a better sense of fairness at work.

Successful succession driving regional resilience – through investing in regional-level capacity and awareness building of EO and the EOT as a succession solution for SME and family owned businesses thereby rooting jobs, supply chains and protecting regional GDP.

Read the full strategy here

So our call to all possible future leaders of the UK is talk to us. We are ready to support you to adopt a national strategy for employee and worker ownership that works in both the interests of individuals and the economy.