TheCityUK unveils plan to support the UK’s post-pandemic and post-Brexit economic future

TheCityUK today publishes its plan to ensure the strength of the UK-based financial and related professional services industry helps to power recovery and growth over the next decade as the UK emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and makes its way in the world outside of the EU.

  • ‘A Roadmap for Economic Recovery’ identifies trade protectionism and regional disparities as critical challenges facing the UK economy, setting out an ambitious plan to put the UK at the heart of the global digital economy.
  • The report outlines the role the UK-based financial and related professional services industry can play in ensuring post-pandemic economic growth is recognised across all parts of the UK.
  • The financial and related professional services industry is committed to harnessing its power to drive technological transformation, tackle climate change and help create powerful regional hubs.

A Roadmap for Economic Recovery identifies several critical challenges that must be tackled as the UK builds back after the pandemic in a post-Brexit world. Some of these challenges can be met by the industry alone, and others need tackling in collaboration with the government and regulators. These include the international slide towards protectionism; regional disparity of wealth, investment and opportunity; the need for greater diversity; climate change; and technological transformation.

Reflecting the UK’s role as an independent trading power, along with its regulatory independence, TheCityUK report recommends a range of actions including:

  • Calling on the government to put digital trade in services at the heart of ambitious Free Trade Agreements – working with like-minded trade partners to create a gold standard of digital trade chapters that cater for technology-enhanced services businesses, limit data localisation, and help position the UK globally as a critical digital trade hub.

  • Strengthening regional connections by levelling-up regional digital, and wider, infrastructure – creating new dedicated forums for the industry to support the delivery of local industrial strategies; consulting on how to release capital held by insurers to invest in real economy assets and infrastructure; and creating a dedicated government taskforce for UK regions and nations to unlock regional economic data and embed regional expertise within government.

  • Unlocking and turbocharging the potential of SMEs – using the UK’s regulatory independence to remove the barriers currently preventing SMEs from raising capital; prioritising the development of digital identity infrastructure, which could add 3% to GDP and support the UK’s position as a market-leading digital economy.

Miles Celic, Chief Executive, TheCityUK, said:

Throughout this pandemic, our industry has been a shock absorber, giving people and businesses help and support to endure the economic impact of Covid-19. As we move to the next phase of rebuilding and growth, our industry also has a key role to play as an engine for the recovery.

"The UK must be bold and decisive in the months ahead to ensure that we seize the opportunities of recovery and avoid the obstacles that may slow us down. We will carry forward this agenda in the months ahead, working together with government and regulators to achieve our ambitions."

The report sets out a wide range of policy recommendations and interventions:

Levelling-up

  • Levelling-up as a concept needs further rigour, be hardwired into government thinking and have clear and effective measures of success.
  • Levelling-up requires a national focus with a ministerial champion and dedicated delivery team to join up government activity and align it with regional strategies across the country.
  • Local and regional leaders must ensure place-based strategies are informed with industry insight.

Industry skills and talent

  • Increase action on diversity and inclusion across the industry, best practice and collaboration promoted, and efforts accelerated to collect and report workforce diversity data.
  • Double-down on industry commitments to mentoring, youth and mobility schemes.
  • Give greater focus to upskilling and reskilling in key areas across the industry to build skills for the future.
  • Government investment in skills and training needs should align with the skills needs of business and be accessible.

Technology

  • Accelerate the development of resilient digital systems and infrastructure to enable all parts of the UK to benefit from the future of financial and related professional services.
  • Prioritise the development of digital identity in the UK.
  • Create a diverse public-private forum to drive greater digital adoption and literacy among UK consumers.

Regulation

  • Prioritise the regulatory pipeline to focus on pro-recovery and investment measures.
  • Consult on proposals to unlock capital through regulatory reform.
  • Take forward interventions to mitigate impacts of economic cycles and enhance focus on procyclicality.

International trade and investment

  • Encourage countries to coordinate Covid-19 economic policy measures – through cooperation on trade-related aspects of Covid-19 recovery plans and coordinating strategies around Covid-19 related investment.
  • Put digital trade in services at the heart of ambitious FTAs.
  • Prioritise building coalitions of supporters of open trade.
  • Ensure closer coordination between industry and government to promote greater liberalisation of trade.

Related professional services

  • Maintain and build the global competitiveness of the UK's related professional services sectors.
  • Acknowledge and promote the importance of English law, the rule of law and UK legal services.
  • Focus on talent, mobility, and data through the development and retention of domestic talent, securing access to international talent, recognition of professional qualifications and cross-border flow of data.

Sustainability

  • Government and industry must work in partnership to advance sustainability goals, including the UK's commitment to bringing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
  • Ensure that the right incentive structures are in place to help promote sustainable investments over non-sustainable ones and consider how the tax system could, in the future, be used to incentivise sustainable finance.
  • Government and industry should continue to encourage international collaboration and ensure best practice ad solutions are shared more widely.
  • Use COP26 to position the UK as a global leader in green finance and sustainability initiatives.

Tax

  • Ensure the UK tax system supports long-term, sustainable economic growth to maximise the financial and related professional services industry's contribution to economic recovery.
  • Tax policy changes should be clear, consistent and developed through consultation to continue to attract businesses to the UK.
  • Consider how the international nature of the UK-based financial and related professional services industry can be maximised for the benefit of the UK's economic recovery.