Share scheme industry celebrates while Royal Mail heading for massive share ownership plan

The share scheme industry celebrated major milestones for employee share ownership at the House of Commons, Westminster yesterday. The event, hosted by IFS Proshare, took place in the same week that a Parliamentary committee is discussing the bill that will lead to 10% of shares in Royal Mail going to staff when it is privatised.

Greg Hands MP (Conservative) said: “This will be the biggest employee ownership [plan] of any privatisation.”
Lord Newby (Liberal Democrats) added: “That sends out an important message of what type of organisation [the Royal Mail] will be.”

It is 30 years since sharesave (also know as save-as-you-earn) schemes were launched, and 10 years since share incentive plans (Sip) and enterprise management incentives (EMI) were launched.

Thirty years ago just 4% of shares were in employee hands, now it is the norm among FTSE 250 firms to offer employee schemes.

Speaking at the celebratory event, the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP (Labour) who was involved in the launch of Sip and EMI recalled how, back in 2000 he said: “This is the biggest boost for employee share ownership our country has ever seen.”

Now in 2010 he said: “I hope that at a time when share prices have turned a corner we will find a new generation interested in share ownership.”

In a show of cross-party support for a government initiative Lord Newby said: “The government does a lot to incentivise programmes and they don’t always work. The great thing about share schemes is that they do work.”


From left to right: Lord Newby; Greg Hands, PPS to the Chancellor; Alexy Armitage, head of employee share ownership at IFS Proshare; Stephen Timms, shadow DWP minister; Anne Kiem, vice principal, IFS School of Finance; Gavin Shreeve, principal, IFS School of Finance

Read more on employee share plans