Last week, we heard plans to strengthen consumer protection, boost innovation and support the transition to net zero. The realignment with the interests of business in the UK was welcome. The government needs to reset its strategic direction and put resilience at the heart of policymaking and focus.
We hear the term future proof being used a lot – future proof homes, future proof jobs, future proof energy. But while this is now attached to so many policy objectives, there lacks a unifying core to mitigate the risks we face now and in the future. This means we must build opportunities across the country and create a stronger and more sustainable economy.
The government has begun this process by looking to cut red tape to unleash investment in green assets and infrastructure as well as unlocking the power of data. But there remain four key areas where we need to go further to establish a more resilient Britain.
Last week, we heard plans to put self-driving vehicles at the forefront of our transport policy. This technology offers a range of benefits to society and the economy, including safer roads, cleaner transport as well as increased mobility and productivity. The proposals pave the way for the UK to be a global leader in automated vehicle technology and attract substantial inward investment. But until we win hearts and minds, and demonstrate the positive impact this technology can have on people’s day to day lives – and the opportunities it will create for people – it risks lacking the crucial buy-in needed from the public and business.
Insurers will be able to further contribute to the government’s net zero targets and energy security strategy thanks to the proposed reforms to Solvency II. But to play a bigger role in the transition to net zero, the financial services industry must be given the confidence it needs to fully embrace this reform. Green investments should be protected from the many winds of politics by creating a concrete framework that actively supports investment in green infrastructure and technology.
While data and AI have huge potential to create jobs across the country, we need to ensure consumers are protected to make it a sustainable policy that won’t dissolve the moment it sees the light of day. Organisations must be more transparent around the use of data and strengthen their ability to prevent and mitigate cyber-attacks. This would accelerate the UK’s ability to leverage data to adapt to changing consumer needs while also spurring continuous innovation.
Adaptability is central to the success of all of the government’s policies. Downing Street must work more closely with business to better understand the radical changes the pandemic has had on the way we live and work, especially on infrastructure. Short-term focus must become long term focus. Britain has developed a habit of constructing new buildings only to pull them down decades later to accommodate the different needs of future generations. This must end. We need flexible buildings which can be refitted and repurposed with minimal intervention as their usage and purpose inevitably evolves.
These are separate policy areas, but they must all share a single core of focusing on resilience – true future proofing, to make sure they stand the test of time both in the minds of the public and in practical application.