Political Intelligence for Businesses working with Government

GUIDE delivers political and market intelligence for corporate clients. To find out more, email Chief Executive Greig Baker on greig@theguideconsultancy.com 


Politics and pensions – a warning from Europe

George Osborne might not spend a lot of time following Germany’s local politics, but perhaps he should. Local authorities in Germany threatened to withhold municipal services from energy firm RWE, because the company said it would scrap its dividend this year, which was not a popular move among the public sector pension funds that rely on those dividend payments. This week’s UK Budget may include a boost for joint local government pension funds in the UK, which will be under pressure to buy shares that pay out well enough to meet the increasing demands of councils’ huge pension obligations. As those funds face growing pressure from councillors and, inevitably, MPs to prop up public pensions, firms selling shares to public sector investors will be exposed to a new and under-appreciated political and commercial risk.

Budget hints from the North

TfN’s newly published economic report calls for increased investment in rail freight capacity, with connectivity around industrial ports given special billing. Most of that investment would need to come from the private-sector, but the Chancellor’s personal and political commitment to all things Northern Powerhouse means HMT is reviewing what it can do to facilitate the cash.

New look GUIDE

Welcome to our updated site, where we are going to share commercially relevant political news throughout each day.

Thanks to the friends and colleagues who offered suggestions on design, accessibility and content – hopefully the site is now easier to use on every device.

For now, thanks for visiting us and we hope you find the site useful over the coming weeks.

Government’s Apprenticeships programme

As the Apprenticeship Levy looms large, central Government has confirmed its intention to have a controlling stake in the “employer led” Institute for Apprenticeships, with BIS Director General Rachel Sandby-Thomas taking on the role of “Shadow CEO”.

The Civil Service’s close attention comes as no surprise and is a timely reminder that this Government programme – with its significant financial implications for businesses facing the Apprenticeship Levy – is designed to meet a political, rather than corporate, objective.

Matt Hancock sets out tech investment plans

During a UKTI-sponsored visit to Israel, Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock has announced HMG will work with Israeli experts to enhance cyber physical security tools in areas affecting industrial control systems, the internet of things and driverless cars. Hancock also cites the Israeli model of cyber innovation centres as one that HMG intends to copy.

The announcements have implications for IT companies in the UK, including more opportunities to win sensitive public sector IT contracts for firms with close ties to UK academic institutions and a clear steer on which cyber security issues are being prioritised by HMG in light of their knock-on effects for major national infrastructure investments – especially in energy and transport.

 

Horses for course, trains for tracks

DfT has published the “National Implementation Plan for the Technical Specification for Interoperability for Energy (ENE TSI): Commission Regulation 1301/2014”, which is about as dry as it sounds. One interesting note though, is it suggests trains operating on the prospective HS2 line would not be able to operate on other UK rail lines (HS1 in Kent can run on its high speed line and the older, slower, tracks). This would make it harder for HS2 trains to be “passed down” to other networks after finishing their initial service and would encourage a foreign sale if the owner wanted to recoup any of their value.

 

Changes to planning permission rules

DCLG has announced plans to change planning permission rules, which would include a “fast track” system similar to the one used for passport applications and encouraging Councils to share planning roles to speed up decisions. Further details are here: http://bit.ly/1LuQU3P

 


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