Scottish workers face growing equity inequality compared to the UK, data reveals


ANALYSIS of new data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed a widening geographic inequality around company share schemes offered in Scotland, compared to the rest of the UK. 

Equity management platform Vestd has found that only 3% of households in Scotland have investments in the form of company share schemes.

This is in comparison to 5% of households in London, and 7% in Inner London.

Further inequality has been found in Northern Ireland, the North East and the West Midlands, where only 1% of households are invested in a company share scheme.

As at March 2023, there were 338,385 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in Scotland, providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs.

And while Google searches for ‘employee share scheme’ in Scotland have risen by 14% in the last year alone, this demand is yet to be matched by SMEs in the country according to the data.

The 2024 data published by the DWP also shows that the gender disparity, in terms of access to share schemes, has doubled since last year. 

Vestd’s analysis of the 2023 data showed that men were twice as likely than women to have access to a scheme. This gender equity inequality has now increased, so men are now four times as likely to receive a company share scheme benefit.

Commenting on the data, Ifty Nasir, founder and CEO of Vestd, said: 

“With the enormous power that sharing equity can have, it’s concerning to see a rise in ‘equity inequality’. 

“Employee share schemes provide great opportunities for Scottish employers to create life-changing wealth for the people that power their growth – they also help to accelerate growth and increase productivity.

“While 79% of FTSE 100 listed businesses have a scheme in place, less than 1% of UK SMEs currently offer one; meaning more work needs to be done to widen access to all more equally.

“For every 100,000 companies that have a scheme in place, we can add £1 billion to the UK economy – so we all see the benefits of more widespread adoption.” 

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