Bishop & Sewell

The government’s 300+ page Levelling Up the UK white paper is already receiving criticism for not addressing the public’s top concern. According to a Trades Union Congress (TUC) survey half (49%) of the British public think increasing the number and quality of jobs available should be front and centre of the plan for levelling up, according to the poll of 1,656 UK adults.

So did our ambitious Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities miss a trick by not leading front and centre on jobs? Not entirely, writes David Little, a Partner in our Corporate and Commercial department.

As Michael Gove wrote, “Levelling up is a moral, social and economic programme for the whole of government. The Levelling Up white paper is a flagship document that sets out how we will spread opportunity more equally across the UK. It comprises a bold programme of systems change, including 12 UK-wide missions to anchor the agenda to 2030, alongside specific policy interventions that build on the 2021 Spending Review to deliver change now.”

The accompanying press release noted that the government, “recognises that if it tries to level up the UK alone, it will fail.’’

Since paying for the levelling up agenda needs to fall on someone other than the state, has the government pulled off a clever trick?

Earlier this week John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, announced plans to slash the red tape faced by insurance firms so they are free to invest £ billions in Britain’s growth.

Speaking at the Association of British Insurers (ABI)’s annual dinner, he said the Government would reduce the amount of capital which insurers must hold to cover themselves in the event of a disaster.

The Government also plans to cut the exhaustive reporting burden on insurance firms which stifles ambitious investment in big infrastructure projects.

Essentially the Government will abandon the Solvency II rules, which were introduced by the EU in 2016. “EU regulation doesn’t work for us anymore and the Government is determined to fix that by tailoring the prudential regulation of insurers to our unique circumstances,” said John Glen to the ABI.

“We have an opportunity to maintain and grow an innovative and vibrant insurance sector while protecting policyholders and making it easier for insurance firms to use long-term capital to unlock growth.”

Reported by This is Money, the plans were welcomed by the industry. Sir Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of Legal & General, said: “This is a great example of improving regulation post-Brexit, through collaboration between regulators, government and industry.

“When implemented it will enable Legal & General to invest billions more in the UK’s levelling up, net zero and science super-power agenda.”

Amanda Blanc, Chief Executive at Aviva, said the reform would allow “insurers like Aviva to play an even bigger role in supporting the UK economy, investing more in the country’s essential infrastructure – the colleges, hospitals, transport and renewable energy which are critical to our future.”

If, and it’s a big IF, the government gets a move on and pushes the reforms through the levelling up agenda might actually start to bear fruit before the next general election, due in May 2024.

If it wasn’t for the fact the attention of the world’s media is understandably focused on Ukraine at present, such an announcement would have been the talk of the commentariat for weeks.

As it is President Putin has handed the UK government a bad week to bury good news.

David Little is a Partner at Bishop & Sewell in our expert Corporate & Commercial team. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB284 on either 020 7631 4141 or email

The above is accurate as at 25 February 2022. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 25th Feb 2022

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