Employee Benefits Connect: Esop chief criticises share scheme stance

David Poole, UK director at the Employee Share Ownership (Esop) Centre, criticised Chancellor George Osborne’s stance on employee share schemes.

Speaking at Employee Benefits Connect, Poole said he was worried that all the government departments involved in the employee share ownership agenda would head in different directions.

“If the communication between those departments isn’t up to scratch, you risk everyone tripping over each other and nothing being achieved,” he said.

Poole (pictured) also criticised Osborne’s 2012 announcement that staff could trade employment rights for shares in their organisation, saying it has distorted employees’ views of share schemes.

“I don’t think it’s been helpful, particularly with the press coverage and the idea of employee ownership being associated with an idea that perhaps isn’t what most people thought employee share ownership was,” he said.

“We have been working with trade unions and, having come through a very long journey towards ‘OK, we’re warming to the idea’, now [share ownership] is seen as a negative again.

“Share ownership is apolitical, but is now attached to quite a political idea.”

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After the April issue of Employee Benefits went to press the employee ownership scheme was blocked by the House of Lords.