Share schemes surge by 600,000

A big increase in the popularity of employee share plans means approximately 5 million UK employees are currently participating in schemes, says ifs ProShare.

The vast majority of these are doing so in a Share Incentive Plan (SIP) or a Save As You Earn (SAYE) scheme, says the not for profit share scheme organisation.
Figures from ifs ProShare show the average amount of money being saved in an SAYE scheme in 2007 rose to £89 a month, up from £71 in 2006. Almost 50 new SAYE plans were introduced in the UK and despite a small reduction in the number of live SAYE schemes being operated by companies in the UK – there were 10 fewer in 2007 than 2006, there was a big increase in the number of SAYE participants – 2.3 million compared to 1.7 million in 2006.
The average amount of money being saved in a SIP rose to £83 a month, up from £72 in 2006. Partnership shares remain the most popular type of shares, with 70 per cent of companies operating a SIP offering such shares, although this is down from 80 per cent in 2006.

Free shares are being offered by 27 per cent of companies operating a SIP, up from 23 per cent in 2006.

The trend of increasing online account facilities has continued, with 62 per cent of companies offering their employees online access to information about the number and value of their SIP shares.

Phil Hall, head of public affairs at ifs ProShare, says: The fact an additional 600,000 employees are participating in an SAYE plan compared to 2006 reflects companies renewed focus on increasing participation rates.”