John Lewis Store
A John Lewis store, part of the John Lewis Partnership, on Oxford Street in LondonReuters

The UK government needs to level the tax playing field to encourage more businesses to become employee owned, according to the great grandson of John Lewis.

Patrick Lewis, the only member of the original founding family working at the retail giant, also warned that it is too complex to set up an employee owned company at the moment.

"The first element, for any business setting up, is making sure that the tax playing field is level," the director of partnership services at the John Lewis Partnership said.

"I would encourage anybody working in this area, and governments, to really concentrate on helping with that. Often employee owned business are set up when a business is transferred from one generation to another. If there are tax advantages to take a different approach to employee ownership, that opportunity gets lost.

"The second area that we really need to concentrate on is making sure that all the advisers to the individuals who are deciding on the right ownership model for their business, really understand employee ownership and the way in which to set up an employee owned business.

"As a group they need to help to make it very simple – at the moment it is still complex."

The comments come after the Business Secretary Vince Cable announced in July that the government is to annually commit £50m ($78m, €62m) in tax breaks for employee owned companies from April 2014.

Lewis spoke to IBTimes UK at the 'If Everything is Dead, What Comes Next?' event at Cass Business School.

Watch the full interview below.

Patrick Lewis: UK government must 'level tax playing field' to boost employee ownershipIBTimes UK