Investments  

VCT fundraising up 245% on last year

VCT fundraising up 245% on last year

Venture Capital Trusts (VCT) are raising money at three times the rate they did at this time last year, according to data from Wealthclub.

All of the providers combined have raised £91.3m since the start of January, compared with £26.4m for the same period last year, the VCT consultancy said.

HMRC data covering the last tax year showed a total of £745m was put into VCTs in the year to April 2018 driven in part by fears that the rules governing the types of companies that can be invested in would change, or that the tax reliefs that come with VCTs could be tinkered with.

VCTs offer 30 per cent income tax relief upfront and the income from the investments is tax free too but they are not liquid investments because the relief applies only to new shares.

The £745m was the second highest amount raised by VCT funds in history.

Alex Davies, founder of Wealthclub, said three VCTs that had been raising money this year have already closed as they have raised the amount they had targeted.

Those are Octopus AIM, Hazel Renewable Energy VCTs, and Northern VCTs. The Octopus Titan VCT has raised £95m in the 129 days since it launched, more than any other VCT.

Mr Davies said rules governing annual pension contributions and dividend taxes had been driving the returns from VCTs.

John Davies (no relation), who runs the Seneca VCT, said fears about political risk could drive demand for VCTs early in this tax year.

He said many investors feared a government led by a different party could change the VCT tax rules, which means investors will want to invest now.

Mr Davies said his VCT was trying to focus on the UK regions, as he felt there was less competition, while the wave of funds raising new capital tended to be disproportionately focused on London and the south.

Jason Hollands, head of communications at wealth manager Tilney, said: "VCT demand in recent years seem to have been partly underpinned by restrictions on pension tax reliefs in the form of the lifetime allowance and tapered pension allowance for high earners, but also a crackdown on aggressive forms of tax planning.

"In contrast VCTs are a government backed scheme, enshrined in legislation.

"For those wanting to invest and benefit from the cocktail of 30 per cent income tax relief and tax free dividends and gains by investing in young, smaller UK growth companies through VCTs, there is certainly a very healthy breadth of choice of VCT new shares issues this tax-year end."

david.thorpe@ft.com