HMRC finally publish share plan statistics!

HMRC have taken their time before publishing tax-advantaged employee share scheme (ESS) statistics for the tax year 2022 (at the end of May 2024).  This may be because they had discovered data processing errors in the years from 2015 to 2021.  In fact, HMRC have currently withdrawn estimates for these affected years.  While this is unfortunate, all interested parties (like RM2) will ultimately want robust data sitting behind the statistics.

The Employee Share Scheme statistics published for the 2022 tax year (only!) do indicate a couple of interesting insights.

Firstly, where a company operates an ESS, the vast majority, 88% operate an Enterprise Management Incentive option plan (EMI).  EMI is clearly targeted at smaller companies rather than larger companies and smaller companies are more numerous than larger companies.  EMIs can also offer share options to individuals over up to the value of £250,000 which is a much higher limit than other types of ESS, making it an attractive means of remunerating employees for employees in eligible companies.   

Secondly, 99% of companies operating EMI did not operate any other type of ESS notwithstanding the other schemes available (for all employees) like the Share Incentive Pan (SIP).  Clearly, more needs to be done by the government and share schemes advisers to promote the clear benefits of these other schemes, particularly SIPs.

Finally, in the tax year 2022, the average value of EMI options per grant was £12,150.  During the same period, Company Share Option Plan (CSOP) grants had an average value of £6,790.  This period predates the increase in the limit on the maximum value of CSOP option that can be granted to an individual from £30,000 to £60,000.  It will therefore be interesting to see how this change (combined with the CSOP technical relaxation relating to shares that can qualify to be placed under CSOP option) plays out in the figures for future years (particularly for the tax years ending 2024 onwards).

While it is heartening to see that EMI’s popularity is borne out by the statistics, hopefully the statistics can also provide policymakers with the reminder that more needs to be done to improve the take-up of the other tax-advantaged employee share schemes.

If you’d like to consider using any type of employee share plan to recruit, retain and motivate your employees, get in touch with us on to talk to one of our specialists about the best plan for you and your business.