In 2016/17, 3,470 companies raised a total of £1.8 billion of funds under the EIS scheme and to date, a total of £18 billion of EIS funds have been raised since the start of the scheme*. This is an attractive investment pool for fund managers to target as they look to raise capital to support growth-stage businesses, however, it doesn’t come without its challenges.

For fund managers operating in the EIS market, claiming EIS tax relief and dealing with investor queries in relation to it has been an ongoing frustration. This has been caused by the stipulated HMRC claim process requiring a) physical tax certificates and b) wet signatures from the investee companies. This has led to a slow, cumbersome and error prone process as the certificates pass through multiple sets of hands before finally making their way to the investor.

For an industry that has a strong technology focus (In 2016/17, 37% of all EIS investment was made into the Information and Communication Sector*), the claim process has been behind the times. However, this is no longer the case. On 16 October, Mark Brownridge (Director General – EIS Association) announced that HMRC will now be making provision for an alternative to wet signatures with the availability of a Unique Investment Reference (“UIR”).

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