It has been a busy few days of roadmaps and reviews for the UK. We’ve had the Prime Minister’s much anticipated plan for easing the country out of lockdown, the Kalifa Review of UK fintech, Lord Hill’s UK Listing Review and the Chancellor’s Budget announcement – all in the space of just over a week.
The vast remit and scale of the various plans and proposals announced will come as no great surprise. The economic damage caused by the pandemic combined with the impact of Brexit, both now and over the longer term, undoubtedly call for such substantial measures.
However, while there will naturally be much debate about the nation’s direction of travel going forward – whether with regards to the speed of removing lockdown restrictions or the level of regulation applied to the listing process in London – change is inevitable.
As businesses start to contemplate the reality of a post-pandemic, post-Brexit Britain, it feels as though the UK is at the start of a new chapter. While change is inescapable, our ability to adapt and innovate within this new environment will be the key to our survival and success moving forward.
Marathon not a sprint
As the Chancellor outlined in his Budget announcement this week, while the vaccine rollout continues apace and infections and hospitalisations continue to drop, the COVID-19 recovery will not happen overnight.
The need for an iterative, long-term approach is important. Businesses will likely have to consider recovery plans over several phases, aligned with the country’s roadmap out of lockdown and the ongoing support provided by the government.
With the OBR’s latest estimates suggesting the UK economy will not return to pre-pandemic levels until mid-2022, there is clearly much work to be done and maintaining a forward-looking perspective with regards to potential changes coming down the line will be key.
The resilience and flexibility we have demonstrated over the last year will prove invaluable as we navigate the next 12 months and beyond, as outlined in Sunak’s long-term plans to get the UK back on track.
Opportunity lies ahead
While change can be daunting, looking at some of the initial suggestions outlined in both Ron Kalifa and Lord Hill’s respective reviews, we are reminded that it is often necessary in order to develop and grow.
For Hill’s Listing Review in particular, as the UK looks to strengthen its position as a world-leading financial centre post-Brexit, the proposals outlined – including updating rules around free float requirements and dual class share structures – are designed to make it easier for the world’s most successful, innovative firms to list in London.
While of course seeking to balance this by maintaining the City’s high regulatory standards, the changes put forward by Lord Hill are intended to help the UK enhance its position as the international destination of choice for equity listings in a post-Brexit landscape.
His recommendations may be controversial to some, but the fundamental nature of his review – the desire to improve the UK’s competitive position and provide opportunity for investors – will undeniably be essential to the survival of the City going forward.
The future is green
While plans for the UK’s future growth are all well and good, there is an overarching theme that must run through all such proposals in order to truly secure our future – the UK’s green recovery.
As Rishi Sunak succinctly put it on Wednesday: “If we want a better economy we have to do things we’ve never done before,” and the Government’s green ambitions certainly meet this criteria.
From the development of new financial instruments, such green gilts and retail savings products, to wider low-carbon energy innovations, the steps being taken to achieve the Government’s Net Zero goals clearly highlight the UK’s direction of travel going forward.
The only way is forward
So, there we have it. After almost 12 months of unimaginable, seemingly relentless change across our personal and professional lives, there is no escaping the reality that there is more yet to come.
However, rather than digging our heels in and resisting the inevitable, perhaps the transformation awaiting us is the change we need to see the UK propelled to the forefront of global innovation and growth over the months and years to come.