IoD Week in Policy 19th–23rd July

This week each email opened with ‘I hope you’re keeping well and managing to stay cool!’, and each call started with an exchange of ‘how are you?’, ‘yes, very hot, how are you?’. In true British fashion, having grumbled at the state of the summer so far, we’re now complaining that it’s just much too hot to be working.

Speaking of not working, the government has decided to change tack on the Northern Ireland Protocol, we are asking the government to change tack on the pingdemic malarky, and everyone is still asking for clarity on the reopening. It appears that 19th July was just a sly cover for the real full reopening on 16th August, when most of the regulations will lift for doubly vaccinated people.

Dual Regime or Duel Regime?

  • On Wednesday, the government published its new ‘Command Paper’, outlining how they are planning to solve the problem of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
  • The Prime Minister stated that so far, the Protocol has not been working well, that it is unsustainable, inflexible, and needs to change.
  • The government’s new proposals are based on trust, destination, and accurate labelling.
  • So, if goods are travelling from Great Britain with the intention of ending up in Northern Ireland only, there would need to be a clear label stating Northern Ireland as the destination, and no customs checks would be required. If the goods are going through Northern Ireland to be shipped on further into the EU, then customs controls would apply.
  • This approach would slash red tape, and allow more businesses to export to Northern Ireland stress free.
  • However, given that this would put the responsibility onto the trader to be honest about the destination of their goods, it might be a stretch to get the EU to agree. Additionally, the European Court of Justice may not be too keen on relying on UK enforcement for their standard of exports. After all, they are sticklers for protocol.

Guidance guidance please

  • The 19th July came finally on Monday, and left England in a wave of confusion.
  • Masks are no longer a legal requirement, but certain shops will only let people in if they are wearing one.
  • The government told us we could go to clubs from Monday night, and then quickly stated that only doubly vaccinated people would be allowed in, and from September.
  • There is no limit on attendees at events such as weddings, funerals, concerts, and sports events, just as there doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number of people self-isolating every week. There is, however, a limit on how much of this we can take…
  • Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland seem to be taking things slower, and perhaps more sensibly.
  • In Scotland, for example, there are specific rules on mask wearing: on public transport and in shops, masks are still compulsory.
  • In Wales, nightclubs will be allowed to open on 7th August, so still a little time to wait. But at least ice rinks are open now.
  • In Northern Ireland, restrictions will be eased on 26th July, and will mean social distancing can be reduced, and 10 people from three households able to meet inside a private home. Their pings are also a legal requirement.

The Ping Dynasty

  • The ‘Pingdemic’ is the latest variant of the COVID-19 virus, and it is running wild in our country.
  • There were 618,903 new cases just last week, proving to be the most contagious of all the variants so far.
  • People are claiming to be getting infected through walls, and in certain areas, so many people are isolating it may as well be called the 4th lockdown.
  • Symptoms of this new variant include: continuous irritation, hot headedness, and a loss of your sense of humour about having to isolate.
  • The pingdemic has caused a lot of controversy for many reasons over the last week.
  • Firstly, there is much confusion as to whether isolating as a result of a ping is advisory or mandatory. In other words, ‘oh for goodness sake do I have to?!’
  • Secondly, it appears that the censor is much too sensitive, causing thousands of people to be isolating for potentially no reason. With staff shortages already creating challenges for businesses, unnecessary isolation really does not help. We were relieved to see the government announcement that said certain critical sectors will not have to isolate if pinged in order to counter these shortages.
  • Finally, a YouGov survey claimed 30% of people had actually turned off contact tracing on the app as a result of this ‘epicdemic’, which very much defeats the purpose of the track and trace in the first place.
  • The comms strategy on this is APPalling, and needs an APPdate.

In with the new

  • This week, the government published its new Innovation Strategy, which seeks to encourage more investment in R&D, develop the skills of the future and adapt the regulatory framework to new technologies.
  • The plan is to lead the future by creating it. They will act under 4 pillars in order to do so:
  • Fuelling businesses who want to innovate, by investing in R&D, expanding the British Business Bank, and creating a new Business Innovation Forum to drive implementation.
  • Making the UK the most exciting place for innovation talent, by introducing High Potential Individual and Scale-up visa routes, and supporting them through the Help to Grow: Management scheme.
  • Ensuring R&D and innovation institutions sever the needs of businesses by investing into funds that will help to drive economic growth across the UK.
  • Enhancing key technologies that will transform our future economy.
  • The innovation is 116 pages long though, so once we’ve finished reading it, we’re sure many of the initiatives will have been seen through.
  • IoD welcomes Innovation Strategy but calls for clear commercial outcomes.

The week ahead in policy

The Olympics began this week with a quieter opening ceremony than usual. But competition will begin next week in good news for those who haven’t had enough football recently, or are missing the tennis. Although I suspect they may be fewer people switching over to the ping pong for some reason…

Parliament is in recess for the summer from next week until Monday 6th September. It may slightly seem as if they have dropped 19th July on us and then swiftly scarpered. However, given the year they’ve had, they’re probably very excited to escape and kick their feet up in one of the green or amber list countries.

And while they enjoy their holiday, we are busy at work next week:

Monday 26th July

  • We are meeting with Ministers Grimstone and Stuart at the Department of International Trade.
  • The IoD National Sustainability Taskforce Meeting will meet to continue their work supporting members and the IoD with Sustainability issues

Tuesday 27th July

  • We are hosting our Corporate Governance Breakfast in order to discuss related issues with a wide range of stakeholders.
  • IoD Wales is meeting with Paul Scully from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.

Wednesday 28th July

  • Our Director of Policy and Corporate Governance, Dr Roger Barker, is taking part in a roundtable on levelling up, hosted by Phil Duffy at the Treasury.

Thursday 29th July

  • Our Senior Policy Advisor, Joe Fitzsimons, will be participating in a discussion on developing skills and establishing pathways into jobs – a 2030 vision for vocational learning, in partnership with Coursera.

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