§ Mr. Alton
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many profit sharing schemes are in existence in the United Kingdom; how many employees are included in these schemes; what percentage of the United Kingdom work force is affected by such schemes; and what information he has as to the number and scale of such schemes in other countries;
(2) what information he has as to the average amount of money provided by profit sharing schemes as a percentage of an average employee's earnings.376W
§ Mr. Moore
At 31 October 792 employee share schemes of all kinds had been approved by the Inland Revenue. This total is made up of 439 profit sharing schemes, 349 savings-related share option schemes and four other share option schemes approved under the Finance Act 1984. In the year 1982–83, the most recent for which figures are available, the average initial value per employee of shares allocated under approved profit sharing schemes was £230; no information is available as to the average earnings of the 230,000 employees who are benefited under these schemes.
It is estimated that the total number of employees who, since 1979, have received shares or options over shares under all types of approved schemes is at least half a million — over 2 per cent. of the total working population. We have no statistics for schemes in other countries.
§ Mr. Moore
We have already taken major steps to improve the tax incentives for employee share schemes. Since taking office in 1979 we have made significant improvements to the profit sharing reliefs and introduced new reliefs for two different types of share option scheme. Whenever we have moved a company from state control to the private sector we have given the employees an opportunity to acquire shares on preferential terms. The results of all these initiatives continue to be very encouraging. We shall keep them under close review.