Greg Clark, financial secretary to the Treasury, recently spoke at an insurance conference where he expressed his respect for the UK insurance industry and announced the government’s plan to put the industry at the heart of its focus in driving UK economic growth. The Association of British Insurers ("ABI") has welcomed the government’s announcement as insurers are amongst the country’s top exporters. The ABI highlighted the potential for the government’s drive to enhance the industry’s position as a leader in global business and strengthen its global competitiveness. A spokesperson on behalf of ABI remarked that the government is right to shine the spotlight on the insurance industry as the industry is uniquely positioned to tackle the UK’s major challenges through its long-term investments.
In this surprise move to launch public policy in support of the insurance industry, Clark called for an open dialogue with the insurance sector in order to better understand the industry needs. Over the past few months, the government has been speaking to firms across the insurance sector to build a picture of the common views and ideas shared in the industry. Clark stated that the government will continue to invite comments on what the government can do to support the industry going forward.
Possible industry suggestions may include:
- Greater clarity over the UK’s position within the EU and the kind of role the UK intends to play;
- Assuming the UK’s future is within the EU, a more streamlined law-making process at the EU level (particularly in light of the delay, uncertainty and cost concerning the implementation of the Solvency II regime); and
- A more straight forward tax regime. In particular, in light of the recent changes to the anti-avoidance tax rules, it would be useful for the government to provide greater clarity on the scope of these rules in order to aid insurance firms with their forward tax planning. Additionally, it would be desirable for the government to prioritise its ongoing project aligning UK tax laws to work alongside the Solvency II directive.