I am probably biased given that we, as a firm, regularly advise businesses on M&A in which we would also include the use of employee ownership trusts, but this call to arms for the Government in City AM last week (https://www.cityam.com/with-uk-dividends-disappearing-overseas-its-time-to-resurrect-employee-ownership/) had me both cheering and frothing at the same time! 

Calling for more employee ownership for the reasons cited in the example - benefits to employees, increased productivity, resilience in recession and superior innovation - is a great thing but, in our experience, it is here already, perhaps being the most openly available best kept secret in the corporate world at the moment! 

The Government created the environment for employee ownership trusts in the Finance Act in 2014 and there has been an increase in numbers since then, from 17 employee ownership trusts in the UK in 2014 to 1030 in December 2022 (based on the latest data estimates that I can find). (And they've also been used by large successful businesses, recently and famously by Richer Sounds as an example).

As I tell clients, an employee ownership trust can be a really elegant solution for some businesses when the owners want to exit but can't find a buyer (or at least a buyer they like and trust to continue the legacy and look after loyal staff), can't agree a price they like with a buyer or just want to hand on the business to the next generation of staff who have been key to the success of the business (admittedly, also with tax advantages for the sellers (if structured in line with Government requirements) and future benefits for the employees). 

So, I cheer the raising of employee ownership as something to encourage but also would shout from the rooftops that it is already here, so owners should consider it as an option when looking at their exit planning.