Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Clegg to promote employee ownership

Nick Clegg is expected to announce the creation of an Institute for Employee Ownership

The Government is due to announce moves to promote employee ownership and make it easier for people to run their own business.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants employee ownership to be normal, rather than a "eureka" moment. He will tell a summit in London that he supports a culture shift to help people become their own boss.

Ministers will publish a report on breaking down barriers to employee ownership in private firms.

Mr Clegg is expected to announce that an Institute for Employee Ownership is to be established.

He will say: "We need to find the right levers to drive a kind of culture shift where going down the employee ownership route isn't a eureka moment, but is much more normal, commonplace.

"Not everyone wants to set up their own company, but we all know we could; we all know someone else who has. That's my aim for employee ownership too - another way to be your own boss.

"If we move towards some mechanism by which employees can trigger a request for employee ownership, as today's report says, a number of questions still need answering: What's the correct minimum number of employees needed to make a request? What are fair grounds for turning one down? Should they be allowed at any time, or just at a specific point in the business life cycle, like succession? And, crucially, is the best way to achieve this a new statutory right, or some other mechanism?

"So, in order to get the answer to these and other questions, we're launching a call for evidence. We'll gather the views of the sector as well as business and employees more broadly and we'll report back in the autumn."

He will add that the banking scandal is a "timely reminder" that the UK economy desperately needs an injection of responsibility, and power in more hands.

Employee-owned firms have lower levels of absenteeism, higher productivity and smaller gaps between the pay of bosses and other workers, Mr Clegg will say. He will also publish new figures by Co-operatives UK, showing that the employee-owned sector is growing at twice the rate of the economy at large.

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