Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

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Capital Gains Tax? What a Relief!

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Capital Gains Tax? What a Relief!

On April 6th 2014, the UK Government will formally launch a range of tax incentives to help grow the employee ownership sector. There will be an exemption from income tax of £3,600 for certain payments made to employees of qualifying employee-owned companies, and the introduction of a relief from capital gains tax (CGT) for owners selling a controlling interest to a trust which operates for the benefit of all employees. Finally, a tax hook on which to promote employee ownership to those business owners considering their business succession options!!

Although the Centre is disappointed that direct forms of employee ownership, such as the worker co-operative model, have not been recognised, this is still a significant milestone for employee ownership. The tax incentives headline what has been a very busy 18 months of UK policy development in this area, stimulated in the main by the recommendations in the 2012 Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership, ‘Sharing Success ‘

To us at the Wales Co-operative Centre, employee ownership is an economic ‘no brainer’. Giving employees an ownership stake in a business changes their relationship with the business and encourages them to take a positive and proactive role in helping their company grow. Recent research by the Cass Business School supports this by showing that employee owned businesses are more stable and more resilient as a direct result of the employees gaining a real stake in the success of that business.

Here in Wales, we see employee ownership as a crucial succession option which can help keep jobs, business and skills in Wales. Unfortunately it is often the forgotten succession option, not being viewed as a mainstream idea by conventional business advisers. At the Wales Co-operative Centre, we have received support from Welsh Government and European Union Regional Development funding to implement employee ownership in Wales and are actively working with both businesses and advisers to put employee ownership firmly in the mainstream.

To mark the introduction of the new tax regime for employee ownership, the Wales Co-operative Centre is hosting a number of breakfast seminars looking at the benefits of employee ownership and how the new tax incentives can benefit business owners who would like to move on from the business.

The events in Cardiff, Carmarthen and Bodnant in North Wales will also consider the employee trust, how it fits with your business model, and the benefits of the model for the business owner and the employees. The seminars will be of interest to business owners interested in looking at their exit strategies and to business advisors who want to know more about the approach to advise their clients. To find out more click here.

In our view, tax should not be the sole driving factor to considering employee ownership. Many of our clients are driven by legacy, and see employee ownership as an approach that engages employees and puts them in charge of their own futures. It helps retain jobs and provides a platform for continued local business ownership and growth. However, having an additional incentive to help promote the employee ownership exit route is never a bad thing and we’ll be working hard to promote the new relief available to business owners here in Wales.

Let’s just hope those clever tax specialists don’t find some loophole which allows companies to abuse the incentive for purposes other than employee ownership, otherwise we could see it withdrawn from the market as quick as at arrived.

Further information can be found on the Wales Co-operative Centres Website

Places can be booked directly by calling the Centre on 0300 111 5050.

Rhian Edwards is manager of the ERDF and Welsh Government Business Succession project at the Wales Co-operative Centre. Her team works with micro-businesses and SME’s across Wales to develop employee ownership approaches and employee ownership based succession planning.


Co-operative Congress 2013 – How can employee ownership help business?

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This year the UK Government is launching the very first Employee Ownership Day on July 4th. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of employee ownership as an economically strong and balanced business model. Employee ownership is an effective way of running a business, that can work across sectors as diverse as manufacturing, retail, transport and professional services. Employee ownership means that employees have both a voice in how the business is run, through ongoing employee engagement, and a stake in the success of the business.

PrimePac Solutions Ltd. was formed in the summer of 2005, as an employee owned company, following the closure of the Budelpack Rhymney factory.

PrimePac Solutions Ltd. was formed in the summer of 2005, as an employee owned company, following the closure of the Budelpack Rhymney factory

















The Wales Co-operative Centre has a strong and long standing commitment to supporting employee ownership and increasing employee engagement within the workplace. We have supported employee ownership transitions throughout Wales and were instrumental in developing the deal which led to more than 200 miners buying and running Tower Colliery in Hirwaun, Aberdare. The Wales Co-operative Centre employs a specialist employee buy-out team, which provides advice to businesses across Wales on succession planning and employee ownership.  On Friday 28th June our Employee Ownership team will be presenting an update on recent developments in employee ownership, to an audience of business experts, as one of the opening events at this year’s Co-operative Congress in Cardiff.

We asked Sarah Owens from the Centre’s Employee Ownership team why the approach is so relevant at the moment.

Sarah: In an employee owned company, employees will have an ownership stake within the business meaning those employees have a direct relationship with the success or failure of the company. They have a level of engagement that means they actively contribute to the company’s development and financially benefit from its success,

The Employee Ownership Association estimates that the employee ownership sector employed over 150,000 people in the UK in 2011. A comprehensive review of the sector, undertaken by respected employee ownership legal expert Graham Nuttall, showed that employee owned businesses benefit from improved productivity, as employees are committed to making sure the business does well, innovation and reduced absenteeism. Employee owned businesses have proven to be particularly resilient during the downturn as they have a built-in reason to make the company succeed and be highly competitive. For the employees, the benefits are a higher level of involvement in the future of the business, a feeling of ownership and empowerment and of course, a share in any profits.

The employee owned Aber Instruments will be represented at the Co-operative Congress seminar

The employee owned Aber Instruments will be represented at the Co-operative Congress seminar

However, there are barriers to employee ownership and the Nuttall Review highlighted three in particular: real and perceived regulatory barriers;  lack of technical and financial support; and lack of awareness. We are hosting a seminar aimed at business advisors next week, to try to clarify some of these issues and raise awareness of the benefits of employee ownership.

How can employee ownership work as an exit strategy?

Sarah: Owners who are looking for an alternative to a trade sale can utilise employee ownership as a planned succession approach. The shareholding of the company can be sold to the employees on a gradual basis using various tax beneficial schemes or the company can set up a trust to hold shares on behalf of the employees (similar to the John Lewis approach). Many strategies use a mix of these approaches.

What are the negative aspects to this sort of approach? 

Sarah:  Good management and good governance are essential. Most employee owned businesses work to a traditional, professional management structure on a day-to-day basis, with the only difference being that managers are more accountable to their colleagues. Employee ownership generally produces superior performance and productivity only when it is accompanied by real employee engagement and well thought out ways to let staff participate in the business. When moving towards employee ownership, it is essential that employees have involvement with the approach and direction of the business and this is reflected in its governance.

How long does it take for a transition to employee ownership to be implemented?

Sarah: The timescales vary, depending on the complexity of the transaction and the intentions of the owners and the employees. We have seen transitions delivered within a few months, but we also work with business owners to consider this approach as a means of gradually withdrawing from the company over a period of several years. For this approach to work effectively as a long term succession plan, we would always advise a longer transition period if possible as this allows more time for the new management to learn how to run the business.

What advice would you give to owners considering a move to employee ownership?

Sarah: An employee owned business must be sustainable as a business, irrespective of its structure. It needs a good business plan, market research and committed leaders. Then, to ensure that employees are engaged within the process as early as possible and that all employees understand and have the same aspirations for the future of the new business and that the business model chosen reflects this.

There are still a few free places remaining at the seminar “Employee Ownership: Solutions for the Private Sector”. They can be booked online at


Written by Mark Smith

June 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

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