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ICAEW pays tribute to Lord Young

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 15 Dec 2022

The architect of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Start Up Loans Scheme, which have been instrumental in providing funding to thousands of fledgling businesses, has died aged 90.

ICAEW has paid tribute to David Young, Lord Young of Graffham and a former Trade and Industry Secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, who has died at the age of 90. As small business and enterprise advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron – and by that time aged 80 – Young was an architect of seminal policy measures, which continue to play a crucial role in giving access to finance for many thousands of early-stage businesses in the UK.

In April 2012, Young was instrumental in the introduction of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), a mechanism designed to increase investment in earlier stage companies through generous tax reliefs that allow investors to receive a capital gains tax holiday on reinvestment of the proceeds of gains in a particular tax year.

Meanwhile, the Start Up Loans Scheme, also conceived by Lord Young in 2012, married access to loans of up to £25,000 with business coaching and advice, some of which was provided by ICAEW members.

ICAEW’s Head of Corporate Finance David Petrie first met Lord Young when he was invited to 10 Downing Street to attend a series of meetings in the aftermath of the financial crisis. “Many small businesses were struggling to find bank finance and Lord Young was acutely aware of the problem. One of the great strengths of the Start Up Loans programme was that Lord Young recognised that businesses needed capital to start up and that they also needed good advice.”

Having realised that many people did not have assets that they could offer as security, the Start Up Loans programme effectively offered unsecured loans for small businesses, with an emphasis on making them available to people from all backgrounds.

To date, 98,787 businesses have been backed by Start Up Loans. This amounts to more than £922m of funding across the UK, of which 40% of loans have gone to female entrepreneurs. Further breakdowns show that one in five loan recipients came from ethnic minorities and 40% were entrepreneurs aged 30 and under.

“Start Up Loans have enabled some great businesses to get going and so often these are started by people who really wouldn't have had the opportunity to get access to the amount of money required. In the right hands and with the right advice, a Start Up Loan can literally make the world of difference,” Petrie said.

Petrie says Lord Young’s contribution to entrepreneurship in the UK through his groundbreaking schemes cannot be underestimated: “I think Lord Young probably did more for the early-stage business community than almost anyone else I can think of. He recognised that a small amount of capital could provide the opportunity to some people with real talent and determination to start a business, which could grow and grow and employ hundreds of others.”

Lord Young was also very supportive of ICAEW’s work on access to finance. He was instrumental in broadening access to ICAEW’s Business Finance Guide and, partly as a result of his personal interest and intervention, the guide quickly reached more than one million small businesses, making it ICAEW's most widely distributed publication.

  • David Ivor Young, Lord Young of Graffham, businessman and politician, born 27 February 1932; died 9 December 2022

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