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SME share scheme gets long-term EU support

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A share scheme designed to help SMEs recruit and keep talented staff has been given the long-term backing of the European Commission.

Enterprise Management Incentives (EMI) were introduced to enable smaller, entrepreneurial firms provide employees with tax-break share options in the business.

The purpose of the EMI scheme was to boost the recruitment prospects of enterprises that may not be able otherwise to compete with the salaries offered by bigger companies.

Now the UK government has received the approval of the European Commission under its state aid rules to continue the scheme until at least 2018.

What’s more, the qualifying criteria for EMIs have also been extended to allow more UK-based firms with overseas operations to use the scheme.

As well as an attractive employee benefit, EMIs offer businesses tax advantages.

Ian Pearson, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “This is excellent news for small and medium-sized companies, particularly at a time when their success will be crucial to economic recovery.

“Long-term state aid approval of EMI provides certainty over the future of the scheme, while the relaxation of eligibility requirements will help SMEs with substantial international activities to recruit highly-skilled UK-based staff. We are confident that EMI will continue to act as a valuable tool in ensuring the growth of SMEs in the UK.”