Deepbridge Sets Out Budget EIS & SEIS Wish List

Deepbridge Set Out Budget EIS & SEIS Wish List

Deepbridge, the tax-efficient investment manager, has today (27th October 2017) set out a wish list of EIS/SEIS measures it would like to see the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announcing during his Budget on the 22nd November.

The wish list comes off the back of the Government’s Patient Capital Review and its consultation on ‘Financing Growth in Innovative Firms’ – both of which provide details on how the Government wants to see innovative firms access the finance they need in order to scale up, and the methods by which investors provide this finance including Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes (SEIS).

Deepbridge has today said it will support any measures that return EIS/SEIS investment back to how they were originally envisaged – as schemes set up to support innovative companies that would otherwise struggle to find funding, not as schemes to save tax.

It is anticipated that HM Treasury are keen to ‘retarget’ EIS and SEIS investment back to higher-risk and innovative companies who are focused on growth areas such as those that Deepbridge funds invest in – namely life sciences and innovative technology.

Deepbridge is supportive of such a move and wants the Government to deliver a tightening of qualification criteria for EIS/SEIS with a growing focus on money going to firms who are active in those sectors and meet these heightened criteria. It does not believe that all existing EIS/SEIS-qualified sectors are worthy of tax relief and would support changes in this area.

It hopes the Chancellor will signal such a move during the Budget as the Government seeks to ensure that only certain sectors benefit from such private investment and that firms' active within those sectors are suitably innovative, can generate exports and increase employment.

Ian Warwick, Managing Partner at Deepbridge, commented:

“Clearly the industry has had a significant debate about the Patient Capital Review and subsequent consultation, and there are clearly a large number of vested interest views that would like to see the status quo preserved. From our own dealings with HM Treasury, and the work of the Enterprise Investment Scheme Association (EISA), it’s clear that this is not going to happen and we fully expect the Budget to be the start of the next stage in EIS/SEIS investment – one that returns the Scheme back to its original intention which was around supporting growing companies which would otherwise struggle to find the finance they require, rather than purely being used as a method to save tax in areas such as freehold property and film/TV.

Ian Warwick, Managing Partner at Deepbridge CapitalIan Warwick, Managing Partner at Deepbridge Capital.

“With approximately £1.6 billion each year now being invested via EIS it is unsurprising that it has caught the eye of HMRC and HM Treasury who wish to ensure that this money is being used properly and those being rewarded for taking risk are taking an appropriate level of risk. EISA has provided the Patient Capital Review with examples to highlight how ‘EIS and SEIS are vital to our nation’s start and scale-up companies and to the overall prosperity of our future economy’. At Deepbridge, we regularly work with Government bodies to provide funding to young companies and understand that their direction of travel, and their money, is predominantly targeted at innovation.”

Mark Brownridge, Director General of the EISA, said:

“The key message to take away is this - every £1 of EIS/SEIS investment has to be a £1 that is equity at risk. If you are a fund and you can satisfy this rule you will be fine, if not you will likely have a problem. Over the years, EIS and SEIS have been incredibly resilient and had to adapt and change many times in the face of changing levels of tax relief, withdrawal of solar and renewable energy as investments and the 2015 State Aid rules and for me, there is absolutely no reason why EIS and SEIS can’t go from strength to strength. Britain continues to be the start-up capital of the world and EIS and SEIS have a proven track record in helping businesses to start, build and grow. It’s evident that small businesses still face significant funding challenges – that problem hasn’t gone away. This is the strength of EIS and SEIS and there are a myriad of small businesses across all sectors, not just technology, very worthy of investment and with the potential to grow for the benefit of both themselves and investors and which are well within the Government’s new definition of ‘well targeted’. The portfolios of EIS and SEIS fund managers already include examples of this and I have no doubt their expertise will continue to find many more. EIS and SEIS are evolving but surely entering the mainstream as an asset class as switched on investors realise that small company investing can add both diversification and attractive potential returns to their investment portfolios.”

Warwick added:

“The EIS and SEIS are great vehicles which the Government should be proud of and harnessing.  We fully understand the concern that too much money has gone to ‘asset-backed’ or ‘capital preservation’ targeted EIS propositions and agree a new focus needs to be taken to ensure that this money goes to companies that need it and can make real returns to the UK economy. We look forward to hearing how the UK Government will continue to encourage investment in to the sectors about which the Deepbridge team is so passionate, namely innovative technology and life sciences. We accept that changes have to be made and it is our view that the Chancellor should refocus the sector, returning it to its original purpose and retaining its ability to help those firms who can benefit the most from it.”