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Autumn Statement: Renewing SEIS and EIS top policy concern for startup founders

Image credit: photocosmos1 via Shutterstock

Updating the UK’s early-stage investment and enterprise tax relief initiatives is the most pressing legislative issue for UK startup founders ahead of the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, data has shown.

A poll of over 50 founders by the crowd investment platform Crowdcube found UK startup founders are calling for growth from the government without sacrificing environmental protection. The potential benefits of cutting EU red tape did not rank highly among the business founders.

Renewing or replacing the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) beyond 2025 was chosen as a top three priority by 57% of founders.

EIS and SEIS are government-backed schemes that give tax breaks to startups and investors during the early-stage funding process. Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng increased the amount that companies can raise using SEIS up to £250,000 – a two-thirds increase and a move that was widely welcomed by the UK startup and investor community.

Those changes appear to have survived the reversal of much of the ill-fated mini-budget.

“The founders who took our poll are the future of British business. As their companies grow, they will employ more people, create more wealth, and contribute more to our economy than almost any other type of company,” Darren Westlake, CEO and co-founder of Crowdcube.

“What’s clear is that while the short-term bottom-line boosting policies promoted by the previous administration are important, they are far from paramount.”

While the startups were broadly in favour of supporting economic growth, they stressed it cannot come at the cost of environmental safety. Some 53% of the participating founders put environmental protection in their top three priorities.

“Founders would rather see the economy managed in a way that is socially and environmentally sustainable than run with a flash-in-the-pan, growth-at-all-costs mindset,” added Westlake.

“In the development of successful, exciting policies like the Futures Fund, Rishi Sunak has already demonstrated a capacity and enthusiasm to support our sector and its aspirations.”