Press release: EOA Challenges Government to Adopt National Strategy for Employee Ownership

EOA calls on new administration’s commitment to delivering a shared economy that prepares the UK for future social and economic challenges

UK: The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) has published a new proposal today that challenges any government, new or existing, to adopt a national strategy for employee ownership. This call comes in advance of the Autumn budget from the chief executive of the EOA, Deb Oxley OBE.

Backed by evidence, worked examples from Scotland and the US, and recent new thinking, the EOA is encouraging government to adopt and invest in a strategy for employee ownership that:

  • Gives individuals a better share of the wealth they create;
  • Supports better business through a code of practice for corporate governance and economic democracy; and
  • Invests in capacity building for employee ownership succession to support increased regional resilience.

The strategy supports the need to spread ownership in the economy in order to prepare for the inevitable impact of greater automation and artificial intelligence on the jobs of significant parts of the workforce.

The strategy will also help protect jobs against the risk of poor succession planning, as wider uptake of employee ownership helps to root firms in their regional economy and protect them against the threat of a trade sale.

The UK must develop a national, bipartisan strategy with related policy interventions to increase the current levels of employee ownership that can complement the priorities of any future government.

Evidence demonstrates that increasing the current level of employee ownership in the UK will deliver greater economic impact for individuals, businesses and regional economies.

  • For the individual – By increasing the number of employees that are able to grow their individual wealth by adding to the current incentives and models of employee ownership. This will increase the voluntary uptake of EO amongst businesses of all sizes and types and includes a comprehensive review of the opportunities for evolution of the EOT.
  • For businesses – By developing new codes of practice and the relevant tools and resources based on the practise of successful employee owned businesses. This includes the development of a definition of ‘employee shareholder rights’ for the employees who acquire an ownership stake as shareholders through an EOT or any future legislation/circumstances where employees own a minimum of 10% of the equity of a business.
  • For the regional economy – By investing in regional awareness and capacity building around business succession and employee ownership to tackle the risk that poor ownership succession poses for jobs, investment and economic resilience. This includes investment in devolved partnerships in the regions with LEPs and Combined Authorities, supported by centrally provided online tools and resources.

The EOA has proposed a new national strategy for employee ownership would be accompanied by the reinstatement of a minister with responsibility for employee ownership, as well as a regular survey on the size, distribution and key characteristics of the EO sector as part of existing data collection efforts by the Office for National Statistics, HMRC and BEIS.

The EOA wishes to work with policy makers to support the development of a new National Strategy for Employee Ownership, bringing the voice and experience of its 400 members to the table to offer real-world experiences that would help inform the detail.

The Ownership Dividend report, which was published in 2018 following a year-long national inquiry into employee ownership, demonstrated how employee-owned businesses are more productive, have higher levels of engagement and are more resilient during periods of economic downturn in comparison to non-employee-owned businesses.

Since then, the EOA has campaigned for greater political interest, endorsement and support.

Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said:

“Over the past two years both employee ownership and its potential future role in a more inclusive and resilient economy has become better understood, more respected and more widespread.

“To ensure the UK economy is able to truly benefit from increasing individual wealth, better governed and trusted businesses and increased resilience in regional economies, we implore any future government to adopt a national strategy for employee ownership.”

Read the full strategy by clicking here.