Cost of Living Share Plan - ProShare lobbies for new share plan targeted at the lower-paid
Head of External Affairs, ProShare and The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland
Last week, I was delighted to support a number of MPs ahead of a meeting they secured with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins MP. Those MPs went in equipped with ProShare’s policy briefing containing those changes you, our members, have told us you want to see. Top of that briefing was our ideas for a new plan designed to support employees and employers through the cost-of-living crisis. I am told by the MPs that they had a positive discussion. I cannot stress enough how heartening it is to learn that the current Minister is interested in our ideas and in employee share plans.
Towards the end of 2022, we gathered a group of members together to discuss how share plans could support employees and employers with the cost-of-living crisis. The idea of a one-year plan targeted at lower paid employees emerged. Based on the Share Incentive Plan approach, this new ProShare initiative is already gathering support amongst MPs who appreciate how it can work for the employee, the employer, and government. Rising inflation and forecast recession in the UK this year means this is an issue which will continue to resonate throughout 2023.
The government has the opportunity to introduce such a plan through the Spring Budget in March. To support that, we formally submitted the idea to Treasury as part of our Budget Submission, and we will be encouraging MPs to support the idea in a written letter to the Chancellor over the coming weeks.
Government commissions new research into Employee Share Plans
We also obtained a ‘heads up’ that the Minister has commissioned research into share plans which is due to report by the end of the year. This is something ProShare called on government to do last summer, directly to the then Minister, Lucy Frazer MP, as there has been no significant government research for fifteen years, since the Oxera study of 2007. We will update you when we have further details and, of course, ProShare will be ready to support the government in this.
The rising levels of interest in share plans builds on the solid base we have created through our lobbying activity. Two debates in Parliament in the last six months of 2022 centred on ProShare’s asks. To put that in perspective, there is only one other mention in Hansard of our membership body in the last ten years, although share plans do crop up more frequently, but perhaps not since the early 2000’s have they been debated so broadly. The Westminster Hall debate in September was successful in that it required the then Minister, Lucy Frazer, to respond to the case for reform made by Sir George Howarth on ProShare’s behalf, but the timing was unfortunate. Liz Truss had just been elected leader by Conservative members, and Frazer was reshuffled the very same afternoon of the debate!
In November, Sir George presented a bill to Parliament for reform under a process known as a ‘ten-minute rule bill’. These are useful for highlighting issues to members of the House of Commons, and high-profile MPs from all the main political parties came out in support.
There is good reason to be optimistic about the year ahead and I really hope you will get behind ProShare to push for reform on behalf of your organisations.