Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Winners of the 30 To Watch: Journalism Awards, 2024

Posted on: May 22nd, 2024 by Alexandra Stamp

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 30 To Watch: Journalism awards for 2024.

For 13 years MHP Group has celebrated some of the best young talent in the media such as Sophy Ridge from Sky News, Marianna Spring from the BBC and Lewis Goodall from the News Agents podcast.

The event gets bigger each year. This year we received more than 350 entries from all corners of the UK.

A special thank you to our independent judging panel, chaired John Ryley, Former Head of Sky News, who reviewed and deliberated over this year’s entries. The panel included Laura Wilshaw, Deputy Editor of Channel 4 News, Richard Frediani from BBC Breakfast and Jennifer Savin from Cosmopolitan.

We were particularly pleased to welcome back former 30 To Watch winners as judges including Daily Mirror political editor John Stevens, Guardian Global Health Correspondent Kat Lay and FT Global Motoring Correspondent Peter Campbell.

For 2024 we are proud to launch the new Sport category. This award celebrates journalists who cover everything from match reports and analysis to interviews and features looking at the major trends influencing the sporting world. We were delighted to welcome Adam Crafton from The Athletic and Martyn Ziegler from The Times, as judges for this category.

The 2024 30 To Watch: Journalism Winners:

 

30 To Watch Breakthrough Award

Eleanor Gregory, ITV News

 

City & Business

Alys Key, Digital Frontier

Tom Saunders, The Times

Highly commended – Calum Muirhead, Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday

 

Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle

Tiwa Adebayo, Bloomberg

Amy Beecham, Stylist

Shehab Khan, ITV News

Debbie Ridgard, Sky News

Highly commended – Olivia Petter, The Independent

 

Health

Cree Haughton, ITV News

Zoe Tidman, Health Service Journal

Highly commended – Anna Colivicchi, Pulse

 

International Affairs

Richard Assheton, Freelance

Sarah Newey, Daily Telegraph

Jack Tayor, Sky News

Highly commended – Ian Johnston, Financial Times

 

News & Investigations

Sophie Braybrook, Channel 4 News

Conor Gogarty, WalesOnline

Ali Mitib, The Times

Sabrina Miller, Mail on Sunday

Katie Tarrant, The Sunday Times

Highly commended – Holly Bancroft, The Independent

 

Personal Finance & Consumer Affairs

Jessica Beard, Mail / Mail on Sunday

Pieter Snepvangers, Daily Telegraph

Highly commended – Katharine Swindells, Inside Housing

 

Politics

Amy Gibbons, Daily Telegraph

Tali Fraser, The House Magazine

Andrew Misra, ITV News

Highly commended – Lewis Denison, ITV News

 

Production

Sarah Gough, Sky News

Jonny McGuigan, BBC News

Rachel Parkes, Channel 4 News

Highly commended – Daniel Ajose

 

Science, Environment & Technology

Matilda Davies, The Times

Nimra Shahid, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Highly commended – Billy Perrigo, TIME Magazine

 

Sport 

Jordan Campbell, The Athletic

Isaan Khan, Daily Mail

Amar Mehta, Sky Sports News

Highly commended – Dan Sheldon, The Athletic

 

Massive congratulations to all of our winners. We look forward to seeing you on the 29th May for the awards ceremony.

 

Our 2024 judges:

Anne Alexander, Head of Politics, Good Morning Britain
Shivali Best, Executive Science & Tech Editor, MailOnline
Shekar Bhatia, Senior Reporter, MailOnline
Peter Campbell, Global Motor Industry Correspondent, Financial Times
Adam Crafton, Football Writer, The Athletic
Anthony France, Senior News Correspondent, Evening Standard
Richard Frediani, BBC Breakfast
Robert Guest, Deputy Editor, The Economist
Daniel Hewitt, Investigations Editor, ITV News
Kat Lay, Health Editor, The Times
Shaun Lintern, Health Editor, The Sunday Times
Paul Morgan-Bentley, Head of Investigations, The Times
Ben O’Driscoll, Executive Editor, The Sun
Kerri-Ann Roper, Head of Entertainment & Features, PA Media
John Ryley, Former Head of Sky News, Sky News
Jennifer Savin, Features Editor, Cosmopolitan
Colletta Smith, Cost of Living Correspondent, BBC News
John Stevens, Political Editor, Daily Mirror
Francesca Washtell, Mail on Sunday
Ben Wilkinson, Head of Personal Finance, Daily Telegraph
Laura Wilshaw, Deputy Editor, Channel 4 News
Martyn Ziegler, Chief Sports Reporter, The Times

 

Political Insider: Humza Yousaf resigns as Scottish First Minister

Posted on: April 29th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

Half a week is a long time in politics. Last Thursday, Humza Yousaf summoned Scottish Green Ministers Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater to Bute House and informed them that their party’s services were no longer required in his SNP minority Government, formally ending their 2021 power-sharing agreement (the Bute House Agreement). Just a week later, Yousaf has been forced to resign, admitting that he “clearly underestimated the amount of upset and hurt” that he caused the Greens. So how did ditching a party of 7 in a Parliament of 129 force Yousaf out?

Following the Scottish Government’s dropping of a key pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 203

0, the Scottish Greens announced they were going to put the Bute House Agreement to a membership vote. In anticipation of a negative result, Yousaf pre-emptively ditched the cooperation pact between them, sparking deep upset and anger within Green Party circles.

Spotting an opportunity, no confidence votes in the Scottish Government and Yousaf as First Minister were called by the Conservatives and Labour parties and backed by the Greens and Lib Dems. After doing the political arithmetic, Yousaf came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to survive them and resigned, sparking off a leadership contest.

As it stands, there are several front runners to take over as SNP leader and First Minister: Kate Forbes, former Finance Secretary and runner-up in the 2023 SNP leadership contest, would represent a departure from the Salmond-Sturgeon dynasty with her socially conservative views. John Swinney, former party leader and Sturgeon’s deputy, is seen as a safe pair of hands by the party. Jenny Gilruth, Scottish Education Secretary, and Neil Gray, Scottish Health Secretary are also seen as potential candidates.

Yousaf has committed to staying on as First Minister until his successor is elected “as soon as possible”, having learnt a vital political lesson: always make sure you have the numbers.

Labour Analysis

Joshua Kaile, Public Affairs, Associate Director and former Labour Party advisor

After 17 years remarkable years of power in Scotland, today feels like it could potentially be the beginning of the end to SNP rule.

Just 15 months ago this would have seemed like an almost laughable proposition, but the fall has come about almost as sharply as their rise to total political dominance in Scotland.

Today’s resignation from First Minister Humza Yousaf was moving at times, with personal reflections and tears in his speech. He reflected on his political miscalculation last week that has seen the abrupt end to his brief premiership. He might have outlasted the lettuce, but he has ultimately been defeated by the Greens.

Humza appears to have fatally misjudged how much ill-feeling could come from his decision to terminate the Bute House Agreement between the SNP and their coalition partners the Scottish Greens. That misjudgement has ended his leadership, but it may have also irreparably damaged his Party, with no opposition group particularly keen to bail them out of the hole that has been dug.

Then there is the ongoing investigation into the SNP’s finances which has seen the former Chief Executive of the SNP, and husband to former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, re-arrested this month.

Labour are particularly keen to capitalise on the struggles in the SNP, both in Holyrood elections and Westminster. Earlier this month Labour overtook the SNP in Scottish Westminster polls for the first time since the independece referendum a decade ago, leading by 33% to 33%. The SNP were faring slightly better in Holyrood polls, leading Labour by 28% to 25%, but that is likely to change in light of recent events.

We are likely to hear Keir Starner and Labour in Westminster comparing the chaos in both the Tories and SNP, urging for elections in both Parliaments allowing for the puiblic to vote for change. Whilst there are clear differences between both, Labour will compare political leaderships that have been in power for 14 and 17 years respectfully, and now seemingly putting their party before the country.

The new leader of the SNP, whoever they pick, has an almighty task ahead of them to turn around the fortunes of the Scottish National Party with a resurgent Labour Party snapping at their heels.

Conservative Analysis

Mario Creatura, Director, Public Affairs and former Conservative Downing Street Special Advisor

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon built the SNP into a seemingly unstoppable political force, dominating Scottish politics with an iron grip on the electorate.

In that context, Labour were essentially locked out of Scotland – unable to win constituencies north of the border, they’d instead need to wrestle control of the Red Wall and Home Counties constituencies from the Conservatives to gain the keys to Downing Street.

That was until Humza Yousaf became First Minister. Elected in the midst of Sturgeon’s scandal, he was always going to find it difficult to lead an SNP/Green coalition in Holyrood.

His poor political decision-making and perceived weakness has boosted Labour morale in recent months, leading them to hope they could take a decent clutch of constituencies in Scotland, reducing pressure on the need to perform well in England.

With Yousaf gone, all eyes will be turned to who comes next. Will the SNP pick someone with the nationalist fire of Salmond and Sturgeon? Will they pick a powerful communicator with a nous for navigating the social issues at the heart of Scottish political debate? In short: will they pick someone that can help the SNP regain control of the narrative, and solidify their crumbling support in key constituencies?

This could be significant. If polls start to close when the election is called then Starmer failing to win as many Scottish seats as previously hoped might make all the difference to the size of his Parliamentary majority.

Whether it’s a speedbump on Labour’s drive to power, or a far more impactful obstacle to scale, will depend on who the SNP pick as the next resident of Bute House.

No pressure.

MHP will be keeping you up to date with the latest news and analysis in this important election year. Please contact [email protected] for further information.

 

International comparison proves the UK is a pioneer in tobacco control

Posted on: April 24th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

Following its initial announcement at Conservative Party conference last year, the legislation proposed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to gradually ban the sale of tobacco has passed its first vote in Parliament. 

Aiming to create a “smoke-free generation”, the proposals would take effect from January 1st, 2027 and prohibit the sale of tobacco to individuals aged 15 or under.  

This marks a pivotal moment in public health policy. Despite years of anti-smoking measures, more than 6.4 million individuals are still smoking in the UK, and it contributes to approximately 150 new cancer cases daily.  

The UK isn’t unique. Smoking is a huge burden globally, claiming over 8 million lives annually and remains the leading cause of premature death. To alleviate this burden, almost all governments have moved forward with anti-tobacco measures.  

When facing common challenges, countries rarely move in complete isolation. MHP’s Pressures and Perspectives report, published in 2023, highlighted how health policymakers regularly look to other countries and international bodies for policy inspiration, evidence and support.  

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has previously highlighted six countries’ plans to bring in “smoking bans”. Yet, since WEF originally catalogued these national plans in August 2023, some of these countries have backtracked or diluted their proposals.  

That looks unlikely to happen in the UK. 

The ban has significant support among voters of the three main parties, with 72% of Conservative voters, 76% of Labour voters, and 76% of Liberal Democrat voters expressing favour towards the initiative.  

New Zealand: From leader to laggard  

The announcement of the UK’s government’s plans last year drew comparison with New Zealand’s efforts, who on 26 July 2022, were the first country in the world to propose and subsequently pass a tobacco law to ban smoking for the next generation, with implementation planned for July 2024.  

This law was scrapped when a new administration prioritised cigarette sales revenue for tax cuts, sparking debate over short-term financial gains versus long-term public health benefits. This shift highlights the ongoing tension between economic interests and public health priorities in tobacco control strategies. 

In the UK, the scrapping of New Zealand’s plans led to a Telegraph headline ‘Sunak goes it alone’, with Conservative MPs on the right of the party calling Sunak’s plan ‘eccentric’. Clearly, some stakeholders in the UK are leveraging changes in direction in other countries to persuade the government to back down. 

Portugal: Half-measures? 

Meanwhile, Portugal has embarked on its own journey towards a smoke-free future by 2040, introducing legislation to  restrict tobacco sales to certain retailers and prevent the establishment of new smoking areas. However, the government has faced criticism and opposition from trade associations, with the national association of fuel retailers calling the plan unfair and disproportionate.  

Delays and changes to the legislation caused an intervention from national and international medical associations. They castigated the government for their historic inertia and misalignment with World Health Organisation guidance. 

Most of the proposed changes to Portugal’s tobacco law have faced delays following the dissolution of Parliament and subsequent election. Despite this, there have been new standards for heated tobacco products since January 16, 2024. The new (centre right) government is currently being sworn in and we will learn shortly whether Portugal will be more like the UK (where a centre-right Prime Minister is leading an anti-smoking charge) or New Zealand (where a centre-right Prime Minister has abandoned the ambitions of a previously left-wing government).  

Will the UK be a trend-setter? 

With rising costs from non-communicable diseases, particularly among lower-income countries, and the most deprived groups in higher-income countries, we can expect that other countries will be watching closely to gauge the impact of the smoking ban in the UK.  

Interviews with policymakers have shown that if above-country bodies like the World Health Organisation or European Union start to support such action – even without legally binding states – that will accelerate adoption.  

Regardless of its international impact, what is more certain is that the UK smoking ban will be implemented. Cross-party support means that a change of government is unlikely to have the same effect as seen in Portugal or New Zealand. 

 

MHP Group wins big at the PRWeek Corporate Affairs Awards, 2024

Posted on: April 17th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

We are thrilled to share that we have won three awards at the PRWeek Corporate Affairs Awards, 2024, including Best Agency for Corporate and/or Financial Comms  and Professional of the Year (Agency)- Corporate and/or Financial Comms

The PRWeek Corporate Affairs Awards are an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the best campaigns, projects, agencies, in-house teams and individuals across sectors covering corporate, city, pharma, public affairs and beyond. The awards honour outstanding achievements and reflect the growing importance of corporate affairs within businesses and the multitude of disciplines and specialisms that sit under the remit of the modern in-house corporate affairs or communications director.

Best Agency for Corporate and/or Financial Comms  

The win for Best Agency for Corporate and/or Financial Comms commends what has been a spectacular year of growth for MHP Group.

In 2023 we achieved 12.5% topline revenue growth for corporate and financial work in a challenging UK market, winning major clients including three FTSE250 companies, two FTSE 100s, four unicorns and two of the world’s leading investment funds. We also invested in new capabilities to deliver a truly integrated approach to corporate and financial challenges, adding Change and Employee Engagement to our offer and hiring a Head of Corporate Strategy to help investor relations leads build thought leadership and longterm reputation building programmes. We focused on adding value to our clients by developing new audience insights and positioning ourselves at the heart of key growth sectors, including fintech and the nuclear industry.

Professional of the Year (Agency) – Corporate and/or Financial Comms

Head of Strategic Media, Keith Gladdis, was last night named Professional of the Year (Agency) Corporate and/or Financial Comms. Keith leads MHP Group’s cross-agency media strategy, executive positioning and media training capabilities. This year, his key achievements include doubling revenues from media and presentation training and winning twelve major new media strategy briefs, including Bupa, Ofwat and RICS. Keith is also responsible for building and leading MHP’s Media Network, which brings together all of the agency’s editorial and journalist contacts, to enhance the agency’s connectivity and provide clients with unique media insight.

Best Use of Social Media and/or Influencers- Corporate and/or Financial Comms

The team won this award for their campaign ‘Swipe left, invest right’ for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA wanted to engage with inexperienced investors dabbling with high-risk investments, so the team turned to the world of dating and encouraged investors to ‘invest how you date’, working with influencers from across both worlds. The selected talent worked from a brief to create Instagram grid posts, reels and newsletters to promote the campaign and encourage their followers to an in-person event. Alongside over 100 pieces of coverage across national, broadcast, trade and consumer media, the talent content saw 63 ‘saves’ and 60 swipe-ups to the campaign landing page. This was the first time the UK’s regulator had engaged directly with its target audience; a radical new approach and one that has set the stage for future campaigns.

We were also Highly Commended in two categories: Best Integrated Agency, and Best Crisis or Issues Management for our Health teams work with Bupa.

The win follows our recent shortlist for the CIPR Excellence Awards where we are nominated for 12 awards including Best Event, Best Use of Content and Specialist PR Consultancy of the Year.

Political Insider: Overview of the Innovate Finance Global Summit

Posted on: April 16th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

The Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) celebrated its tenth anniversary this week with leading fintechs, policymakers and investors coming together at London’s Guildhall to discuss the future of UK fintech. Yesterday – the first day of the two-day summit – saw the Prime Minister make an appearance, albeit via video message, to herald the ‘power of technology to make life better for everyone’.

One of the leading themes this year was innovation, and how to encourage technological development through a suitable regulatory environment that provides effective consumer protection. The keynote speakers from Westminster – Bim Afolami MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and Tulip Siddiq MP, Afolami’s Labour Shadow – certainly reinforced the theme throughout their presentations.

For Siddiq, her speech earlier this afternoon was another opportunity to showcase Labour’s vision for financial services, and to woo the sector. Labour’s positioning of itself as the party to be trusted with the economy was reflected in her call for industry to contact her with ideas for Labour’s first 100 days in office… although, it may also be argued this shows the Party is desperate for ideas on how a fiscally constrained Labour administration can achieve its central mission of economic growth.

Day one – 15th April

Bim Afolami, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, gave the opening keynote speech of the day. He highlighted the might of the UK fintech sector, which attracted nearly $5 billion in investment in 2023 (second only to the US). With 86% of digitally active adults in the UK using fintech services, Afolami emphasised the government’s recognition of the sector’s potential to drive economic growth and job creation

To support innovation, the government is developing a regulatory framework for financial data sharing based on fairness, partnership, and safety, and is considering recommendations from the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) on open finance. Moreover, Afolami announced the formation of the Open Finance Taskforce (whose inaugural meeting took place at IFGS 2024), the upcoming publication of the National Payments Vision (due before the summer recess, in mid-to-late July), and the government’s focus of putting in place legislation for regulating stablecoin by July 2024 – while emphasising the Conservatives’ commitment to creating a regulatory environment that protects consumers while allowing firms to innovate

The keynote speaker Sarah Breedon, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, outlined how the Bank is preparing for the radical changes in money and payments that are being driven by rapid technological innovation, aiming to harness the benefits while ensuring consumer safety. This summer the Bank will publish a discussion paper on the payments landscape to gather input and encourage greater collaboration with industry players – the findings from which support HMT’s work in setting out a National Payments Vision.

In other headline news from the day, Innovate Finance’s Unicorn Council for UK FinTech published its six recommendations for policymakers which are designed to maintain the UK’s leading global position in fintech. Core recommendations include the abolition of Stamp Duty, a rethink to regulation, broadening of the tax R&D scheme and business asset disposal relief. The Council also called for updates to the EMI and EIS schemes, as well as the introduction of a VAT-rebate scheme for early stage fintechs.

Day two – 16th April

Today, Tulip Siddiq, Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury, outlined Labour’s vision for the future of the fintech sector, reiterating the commitments made in the Financial Services Review published in January. A Labour government would provide greater support for international firms to set up in regions across the UK, as well as a skills plan to support, among others, women in fintech.

On regulation, Siddiq echoed the sentiments made by Afolami the day before – that regulation must allow firms to innovate. An effective regulatory environment would help deliver regional growth and empower consumers, and a Labour government will seek to streamline regulation and update the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) 10,000 page regulatory handbook. Moreover, Labour would establish a Regulatory Innovation Office to ensure accountability and transparency in regulatory performance, particularly concerning secondary competitiveness objectives, as well as identifying overlaps in the mandates of different regulators. Finally, Siddiq said Labour would introduce regulation for the Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) industry, reflecting the Party’s commitment to consumer protection.

Other leading news from the day is the speech from the chair of the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), Aidene Walsh, who provided her reflections on the last year at PSR. She highlighted how 10% of all fintechs currently reside in the UK, outstripping the number in all EU countries combined. This is predicted to increase to 12% by 2030, provided the regulatory environment remains favourable. Ensuring regulation encourages innovation and growth is a core focus of PSR and it is working with industry leaders to achieve this.

Walsh discussed the substantial progress the UK has made on encouraging the adoption of Open Banking, such as HMRC recently making history by becoming the first tax authority in the world to integrate Open Banking into its systems. She also mentioned PSR’s work with FCA to promote change and innovation in the retail payment sector, noting her ambition for Open Banking to create effective competition to cards and retail payments. Walsh also stated her belief that the soon-to-be-published National Payments Vision will set the scene for innovation in the UK fintech sector.

For further information, please contact: [email protected]

Redesigning Health: Insights on innovation to improve population health

Posted on: April 16th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

As we approach the second anniversary of the establishment of Integrated Care Boards, this first discussion benefited from the insights of system leads and those participating in them, by looking at the role ICBs can play in delivering innovation to improve population health.   The purpose of the series is to explore current and future trends in healthcare with a focus on how health systems can be redesigned centred on prevention and improving population health – with support from all parts of the health ecosystem: public sector, industry, academic and medical research charities, and NGOs.

A number of key themes emerged from the discussion, including:

  • The availability of resource at the front line of innovation delivery
  • whether individual participating bodies are ‘innovation ready’ – it was observed that the NHS is good at running and evaluating pilots but that those deemed successful do not always get widely implemented in any case, and
  • the need for prioritisation – focusing on ‘priority areas’ and doing them well rather than trying to engage in dozens of unrelated projects

More broadly, roundtable also discussed the challenge of multimorbidity and the role innovation – both service and product – has to potentially free up GP time and enable them to provide greater support to this cohort of patients; the value that patient and public involvement brings to the co-creation and design of research and innovation; and the convening role that ICBs have in the innovation ecosystem and especially to encourage multisectoral collaboration.

The following two roundtables will build on today’s event:

  • In July, the theme will be Remodelling public health through data, and will focus on how data and AI are now the new engineering that can help prevent disease – in much the same way as Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s sewerage system did for infection in nineteenth century London.  AI is new and has positives and negatives – and as with the broader use of health data for research, planning and innovation there are ethical implications which if not managed correctly can result in public distrust. This roundtable will seek discuss the medico—ethical challenges alongside the opportunities and how we can ensure innovations to improve the public’s health are not hindered, whilst at the same time ensuring trust is not damaged.
  • The third and final roundtable in September will discuss Investing in prevention:  post-pandemic global health and will consider how a combination of geopolitical and economic pressures combined with post-Covid 19 recovery across the world means that the resources to support prevention are being tightened at a time when greater investment is required.  How can we ensure new innovations can be developed and reach the public but are not hindered due to lack of funding?  The session will also consider how health systems can prioritise innovations to prevent disease and how a multi sector approach can support investment in prevention.

To find out more, please email [email protected]

MHP Group shortlisted in 12 categories at the CIPR Excellence Awards, 2024

Posted on: April 16th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

We are thrilled to share that we have been shortlisted in 12 categories for the CIPR Awards, 2024.

The long-standing CIPR Excellence Awards recognise the phenomenal work of public relations practitioners around the globe.

Split across MHP and Mischief, we are delighted to see the hard work and creativity of our teams acknowledged in this year’s awards.

We have been shortlisted for:

Corporate and Business Communications Campaign IWG

Best Event – FCA, Swipe Left, Invest Right

Consumer Relations Campaign – Ocado x Beano

Social Purpose Campaign – Just Eat, Allies United

Social Purpose Campaign – Chase, Inspired by the Wild

Integrated Campaign – Just Eat, Allies United

Sport or Entertainment Campaign – Three, #WeSeeYouNetwork

Sport or Entertainment Campaign – Just Eat, Allies United

Travel, Transport, or Tourism Campaign – Avanti, Pulling in the Right Direction

Best Use of Content – Ocado x Beano

Best Event – FCA, Swipe Left, Invest Right

Specialist PR Consultancy of the Year – Mischief

The news follows our recent win at the PRCA City and Finance Awards, where we were named City Agency of the Year, as well as winning for Best Banking Communications Campaign for our work with British Business Bank. It follows a period of exciting growth for MHP Group, as we have recently acquired leading creative content agency La Plage to expand our offering, as well as welcoming a host of new joiners to the team, including Lisa Hunter as Head of Strategic Communications.

We’re looking forward to the awards evening in June. See the full shortlist here

Political Insider: Rachel Reeves’ economic vision for the UK

Posted on: March 20th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

A prestigious rite of passage for Shadow Chancellors before her, Reeves drew parallels to 1970s Britain, arguing that we are in a moment of flux, and that the solution is an “active government” underpinned by theories of “Securonomics” and driven by three imperatives: stability, investment, and reform.

What did we learn from the Shadow Chancellor?

Securonomics

  • Drawing comparisons to Harvard Economist Dani Rodrick’s “new productivist paradigm” and the Biden administration’s commitment to “modern supply side economics”, Reeves defined Securonomics as a broad-based “platform from which to take risks” and embrace change with stability of action.
  • Spoke of the benefits of an “active” and “strategic” (“not big”) state, which she suggested was an economic imperative to protect Britain from global instability.

Stability

  • Pledged that a Labour government would retain a 2% inflation target.
  • Labour would make financial institutions and FTSE 100 companies publish carbon footprints and would create a UK green taxonomy.
  • Recognised that businesses need stability in tax, she also pledged that Labour would hold a single autumn budget every year; cap incorporation tax at 25% and row back on business taxation for the duration of parliament.
  • Labour would move the current budget into balance and would target government debt to fall as a % of GDP by the fifth year of the OBR’s forecast.
  • Labour would end the changing of fiscal rules, adding an escape clause that would only be used to suspend existing tax rules if the OBR could officially declare the UK was in an economic crisis.
  • Commented that Labour would focus on day-to-day spending, prioritising investment within a framework which would get debt falling at a share of our GDP over the medium term.
  • Noted that Labour would reverse the current Chancellor’s decision to remove climate change from a list of four objectives for the Financial Policy Committee and Monetary Policy Committee.

Partnership with businesses to encourage investment

  • Noted Labour’s desire to work with business to identify areas where Britain can develop comparative advantage.
  • Pledged that Labour would review the pension system to ensure that it is serving British savers and UK plcs.
  • Labour would end the practice of one-to-three-year funding cycles for key Research and Development institutions, instead outlining 10 year budgets which would allow for meaningful partnership with industry.
  • Commented Labour would work with universities to make sure spin outs can attract private capital.

Reform

  • Suggested that our current planning system is a barrier to economic growth and home ownership, pledging that Labour would carry out a once in a generation overhaul of nationally significant projects, updating all national policy statements within six months of coming into office to reflect the type of infrastructure crucial to our economy.
  • Labour would reintroduce mandatory local housing targets, and recruit hundreds of new town planners to tackle the backlog.
  • Highlighted the benefit of decentralisation, correlating it with higher investment, stronger growth possibilities and better educational outcomes. She said that Labour would give greater economic power to regional and local leaders, who “know their leads and assets best.”
  • Commented that the “broken” apprenticeship levy would be replaced by a growth and skills levy.
  • Pledged a “new deal for working people,” which would guarantee basic rights from day one, protection from unfair dismissal, sick pay, and parental leave; ban zero hours contracts and reverse Trade Union legislation introduced since 2010. She noted that none of this would impede businesses’ abilities to fairly dismiss employees or offer overtime/hire on the basis of short-term demand.
  • Recognised that a productive workforce required stronger public services. She re-stated Labour’s pledge to urgently resource injection into public services to get the long-term sick back into work.

Labour Insight on Reeves-ism

Joshua Kaile, Public Affairs, Associate Director and former Labour Party advisor

Depending on who you read or listen to, Rachel Reeves speech last night at the Mais Lecture was either indicating a return to New Labour, a move to radical economics, or a continuation of Tory and Rishi Sunak’s economic rules.

The Conservative accusation is that Rachel Reeves has no plan, but risks borrowing too much to invest in the growth she has promised.

The charge from some of the trade unions, most notably Unite, and those on the far left is that Reeves plans are too close to the Tories. What is the point of a Labour Government if it doesn’t look like one, they ask.

And then there are others who claim that the Shadow Chancellor is following the fiscal rules of Gordon Brown and therefore it’s a ‘return to New Labour’.

So, whilst the Tories say she’s like Corbyn, the unions say she’s like Thatcher and others claim she’s like Brown, the truth is that none of these charges quite fit.

Perhaps we need to stop trying to compare Rachel Reeves to somebody or something else. With Labour holding a commanding lead in the polls, the UK is close to having its first female Chancellor. An extraordinary achievement, smashing the remaining glass ceiling at the Treasury.

So, who is Rachel Reeves and what will a Treasury lead by her really look like?

What we know is that Rachel prioritises fiscal responsibility and is not afraid to be a Labour Shadow Chancellor stating so clearly. She will not be nudged into any direction she is uncomfortable with, and so the comparisons to Thatcher are real and fair in that respect.

But in her speech last night, Rachel made clear that she will drive forward the party’s New Deal for Working People with commitments to end zero-hours contracts and protecting workers from unfair dismissal amongst other rights. And there the comparisons to Margaret Thatcher come to a crashing halt.

The Shadow Chancellor talked eloquently about the need for investment, driven by new institutions including Labour’s National Wealth Fund and Great British Energy. This goes beyond what Gordon Brown and New Labour every managed to deliver, so accusations that she is returning to the ‘noughties’ doesn’t really stack up.

Indeed, this level of investment is closer to that promised by the two previous Labour leaders, but with one key difference. Rachel’s clear fiscal rules, including matching the Tories pledge to reduce debt as a share of GDP on a five-year basis. Her pitch to the public is that she will deliver economic growth, without borrowing too much, and use that growth to drive further investment, raising living standards for those across the country. Not just in London and the South-East.

The Tories will continue to say that this is simply not possible, and that Labour will have to borrow more or raise taxes to deliver it. Unfortunately for them, after 14 years of Conservative rule and Liz Truss’s brief but disastrous premiership, the public simply doesn’t trust them anymore.

Rachel may be often simply referred to as ‘the iron shadow chancellor’ but in private she would be just as happy being described as ‘the campaigning shadow chancellor’. And in that I think we see what a Rachel Reeves Treasury will look like. Fiscally responsible and putting growth front and centre. But whenever she is able to, we will see her drive improving living standards, and ensuring the burden lies with those with the broadest shoulders.

With a General Election just a matter of months away, it’s time we stop comparing Rachel to others and start learning what Reeves-ism really is.

MHP’s Public Affairs team will be keeping you up to date with the latest news and analysis in this important election year. Please contact [email protected] Head of Public Affairs for further information.

#InspireInclusion: Bridging data disparities to empower women from ethnic minorities in the UK

Posted on: March 8th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

Despite advancements, data in healthcare, (or the lack of it) consistently show that women face unique challenges in accessing quality care and are disproportionately affected by health inequalities, especially women from ethnic minorities. This International Women’s Day (IWD), MHP explores the importance of addressing the gender health gap to empower women, especially those from ethnic minorities and foster inclusive practices, aligning with the spirit of International Women’s Day. 

In September 2023, the charity Wellbeing of Women, in association with MHP Group, convened the ‘Health Collective’ – a group of grassroots organisations passionate and committed to improving women’s health for all women, especially those from marginalised backgrounds. This Health Collective united to ensure improved inclusivity and outcomes in healthcare for Black women and other ethnic minorities. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2024 under the theme of “inspiring inclusion,” it is crucial to address and recognise the persistent disparities in healthcare access and outcomes that women face. Currently, the UK has the widest gender health gap in the G20 and the twelfth largest globally. 

A recent report published by McKinsey, entitled ‘Closing the women’s health gap: a $1 trillion opportunity to improve lives and economies revealed that in Canada and the UK, just 5.9 percent of grants between 2009-2020 went to research that looked at female-specific outcomes or women’s health. The data for research grants into women’s health from ethnic minorities is not readily available but is assumed to be drastically lower than 5.9 percent. In the UK, less than 2.5 percent of publicly funded research goes into reproductive health. It is very difficult to #inspireinclusion when these gaps in data exist.  

Dr Aziza Sesay, GP educator, Honorary Senior Clinical lecturer, host, speaker, health content creator and member of the Health Collective, said: 

“The theme for International Women’s Day, which is ‘inspiring inclusion’, is not about tokenism. Rather, it’s about thoroughly examining systems and working to improve them in order to benefit everyone. Data plays a crucial role in ensuring better outcomes for women, but often the methods of collecting this data are not accessible to all and can lead to biased results. The Health Collective, comprised of grassroots organisations, is essential in bridging gaps in these methods and building trust, while also amplifying the voices and expanding the reach of organisations already making a positive impact that can lead to better outcomes.” 

Health Inequalities Among Women from Ethnic Minorities: 

Women from ethnic minorities in the UK experience a multitude of health inequalities. In their report, the Health Collective identified that these range from higher rates of maternal mortality to increased prevalence of certain chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These disparities are influenced by various factors, including socioeconomic status, language barriers, and systemic racism within the healthcare system.  

The report identified barriers marginalised groups are facing in accessing women’s health services and highlights inadequate gathering of health data as a barrier. This results in the emergence of significant evidence discrepancies in vital domains such as maternal mortality. Women are frequently more likely to be misdiagnosed and wrongly prescribed medicines due to the fact that they are underrepresented in medical research. Consequently, policies and interventions formulated on incomplete information fail to address underlying inequities. For example, women are 50 percent more likely to get an initial wrong diagnosis when they’re having a heart attack as ‘common symptoms’ are based off research which is reliant on the male experience. Additionally, whilst 1 in 10 women in the UK suffer from endometriosis, it takes around seven and a half years to get a diagnosis and women are frequently misdiagnosed due to the lack of research on this condition.  

Empowering Women Through Data-Driven Interventions: 

Data-driven interventions play a crucial role in empowering women from ethnic minorities to take control of their health and well-being. By leveraging data to identify high-risk populations, tailor interventions to specific cultural contexts, and monitor progress over time, healthcare providers can deliver more effective and equitable care. Furthermore, involving women, especially those from ethnic minorities in the co-design and implementation of healthcare initiatives ensures that services are appropriate and impactful for all, leading to improved outcomes and responsive healthcare services. 

The start of this year has brought some promising advancements and initiatives in this area. At the Women’s Health Summit, the Health Secretary, Rt Hon Victoria Atkins MP, said that in Britain, Black women are almost three times more likely to die whilst giving birth or shortly after than white women. Atkins also said that women of Asian ethnic backgrounds are 1.67 times more likely to die whilst giving birth or shortly after than white women.  Describing these figures as completely unacceptable, the Health Secretary announced the launch of the first ‘Research Challenge’ worth £50 million to tackle and address these maternity disparities from the National Institute for Health and Care Research. In short, the existence of such data paves the way for change.  

Similar schemes by industry are needed to ensure consistent and regular funding for grassroots organisations, diversity in clinical trials and providing resources to drive research, innovation and development. By investing in these programmes, industry can help change the paradigm of women’s health and ensure better healthcare outcomes for all. 

Conclusion: 

Despite positive movements, it is clear that progress is slow. Hologic, a leading innovator in women’s health, in their recent report and call to action, have concluded that women’s health is in a state of emergency, not just in the UK but globally. Data serves as a critical tool for understanding and addressing health disparities. Therefore, improving available data and ensuring inclusion in healthcare research are essential steps towards promoting inclusive healthcare practices.  

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2024, we must reaffirm the commitment to inspiring inclusion in healthcare by addressing data disparities and health inequalities among women and especially women from ethnic minorities in the UK. Industry, Government and health systems need to work together to ensure that the health of women is prioritised. By harnessing the power of data to inform policy and practice, fostering cultural competence within healthcare systems, and empowering women to actively participate in their own care, we can create a more equitable and inclusive healthcare landscape for all women, regardless of ethnicity or background.  

Political Insider: Spring Budget, 2024

Posted on: March 6th, 2024 by Morgan Arnold

It has become commonplace for details of a budget to be ‘leaked’ to the press before being formally announced to Parliament, save for one or two ‘rabbit out of the hat’ policies intended to woo voters. While we saw multiple leaks, many have been left wondering where the rabbit was hiding in today’s announcement.

After 14 years in government, the Conservative Party has been accused of lacking fresh ideas on how to meet its self-allocated priorities – being ‘rabbit-less’, if you will. Arguably, this is reinforced by its pinching of Labour’s policy on reforming rules for people with non-domiciled status in the UK today.

Jeremy Hunt spoke often of the need for lower taxes as a stimulus for economic growth. He announced as ‘tax cuts’ the freezes on fuel duty and alcohol duty, additional ‘expensing’ relief for businesses, stamp duty relief, reducing the higher 28% capital gains tax rate for residential properties and – as his headline actual tax cut – a 2% reduction in employee national insurance (NI). In conjunction with the 2% NI cut introduced after the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor argues this will provide 27 million employees with an additional £900 a year.

Notably, the basic rate of income tax was not cut – a measure which would likely have had greater cut through with voters. Nor were changes made to the tax thresholds, which have been frozen in cash terms since April 2021 and have resulted in thousands of earners being dragged into higher rates.

Hunt made much of the latest forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which predicts inflation will drop below the Conservative’s 2% target “in just a few months’ time” – nearly a year earlier than previously forecast. This, argued Hunt, is proof that the Conservative’s plan for long-term growth is working, and that voters should stick with the government at the next election.

Time will tell whether Hunt’s announcements have done enough to turn around the Conservative’s electoral fortunes – in other words, are the additional cuts to NI enough of a rabbit?

At a glance, the core measures announced by the Chancellor today:

  • Main rate of employee NI contributions cut from 10% to 8%
  • For the self-employed, main rate of Class 4 NI cut from 9% to 6%.
  • Abolishment of non-dom status
  • High Income Child Benefit Charge threshold raised to £60,000
  • Freeze on alcohol duty
  • Five pence cut to fuel duty maintained and rates frozen for the fourteenth consecutive year
  • Cut on capital gains tax on residential property sales
  • Increase in the VAT registration threshold for small businesses, from £85,000 to £90,000
  • £2.45 billion for NHS support and reform, alongside new £3.4 billion productively plan
  • A new duty on vapes
  • New British ISA to be introduced
  • Scrapping of the furnished holiday lets regime
  • Military spending to rise to 2.5% of GDP “as soon as economic conditions allow”
  • Maintaining of 1% increase in day-to-day public spending above inflation
  • £160 million invested on two nuclear sites and £120 million for green industries to develop technologies
  • Windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas companies to conclude in 2029

The political impact of today’s budget for the Conservative Party.

Mario Creatura, Director, Public Affairs and former Conservative Downing Street Special Advisor

There is significant demand for greater public spending, from a public that also hopes for much-needed tax cuts to ease the cost-of-living burden. These are two tricky, bucking horses that the Chancellor today attempted to ride simultaneously – all compounded by a Parliamentary party that want him to do more of everything, to have done it yesterday, but without any real consensus on what ‘everything’ actually entails. It’s that lack of political clarity that has made this Budget more challenging for the Chancellor than otherwise would or should be the case.

With the 2p cut in National Insurance, a cut in fuel duty, reforms to childcare and VAT support for SMEs, Hunt will be hoping that tonight’s headlines will reward him with positive tax cutting coverage.

But it’s the political manoeuvrings on scaling back the non-dom tax regime and extending the tax on oil and gas company profits that may be more significant over the coming months. Both were similar to proposals Labour pledged to implement, with the resulting funds being used to fund a variety of measures. Shadow Cabinet spokespeople have been at pains to say the extra spending commitments won’t change, even though they’ll need to desperately source the funds from elsewhere.

In true pantomime fashion Labour have thrown their toys out of the pram over this. How dare a politician seek to play politics at one of the key political moments in the calendar! Yet these howls of injustice will come to nothing as the inquiring narrative from their opposition and press are already asking: how will you fund these cast-iron pledges now? What taxes will go up or services will be cut?

These core questions are designed to expose a key battleground over the coming months. Who is to be more trusted on the economy? The Conservatives with their recent turbulent fiscal performance or Labour, with a plan but no way to pay for it?

“Great Budgets change history,” proclaimed Jeremy Hunt shortly before he stood at the Despatch Box today – he will be hoping that his Budget boxes Labour into a corner, one that gives the Conservatives the edge they need to get back in the General Election-winning game.

The political impact of the budget for the Labour Party.

Josh Kaile, Public Affairs, Associate Director and former Labour Party advisor


The Chancellor used a lot of words in his speech, but ‘recession’ was not one of them. Indeed, you would be forgiven for forgetting that the UK is actually in a recession right now.

But never fear, Keir Starmer was only too happy to remind the country of ‘Rishi’s Recession’ when he stood up to respond to the Budget.

Labour’s attack on the Tories has centred around the government delivering the highest tax burden in 70 years. Keir made sure to remind anyone listening that taxes are rising, prices are soaring and mortgages are higher. People across the country are feeling worse off, not better.

So, the question today is whether Jeremy Hunt has been able to challenge that narrative and show that the Conservatives are tackling the cost-of-living crisis and making people feel better off.

Will people feel better off from a 2p cut in National Insurance? Will people feel better with a freeze in alcohol and fuel duties? The Chancellor is gambling that they will.

The opposition’s pitch is that a Labour Budget would be focused on creating decent jobs, building 1.5 million new homes and the industries for the future. In a word, it’s about ‘growth’.

Keir also pointed out that if the Tories really did believe in ending the ‘non-dom’ tax break, other than using it for political manoeuvring, they would have introduced it years ago. They could have delivered 3.8 million NHS operations or provided free breakfast clubs for schools across the country.

Instead, he claims the government are putting the Conservative Party first and the country second.

The Leader of the Opposition ended the political give-away session from the Chancellor by calling for a General Election on 2ndMay. I suspect this will see the Prime Minister being followed by a life-sized chicken when he inevitably fails to deliver. We may be months away from an election now, but the campaign has well and truly started.

The City’s reaction

Charlie Barker, Managing Director, Capital Markets

Ever since former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s infamous not-so-mini Budget almost downed the UK bond markets 18 months ago, his successor has taken care to avoid spooking markets. So it was no surprise that today’s announcement from Jeremy Hunt was in line with the headline measures leaked to the media in recent days.

But there was still some new news for the City to cheer.

Beyond the rosier than expected growth forecasts from the OBR, ears will have been pricked by the announcement of a new “British ISA”. The measure, which had been long rumoured, will allow savers an additional £5,000 to invest tax-free each year as long as they put that money into UK-listed shares.

That will have pleased many in the City who have been lobbying for such a move in recent months to boost demand for UK stocks. But they may have also been disappointed by what was absent. There was, for example, no sign of a move to scrap stamp duty on buying shares, which critics argue puts off international investors.

As the Chancellor raced through the rest of his section on City reforms, there may have been a sense of an opportunity missed. However, the initial reaction of the UK-company focused FTSE 250 Index – moving to its highest level of the day, up 1.2% by the end of his speech – suggests that overall the City reaction has been a positive one.

Health Insight

The health policy community were not expecting much in terms of health and social care in today’s Budget, with the Chancellor intending to cut taxes ahead of the next General Election. However, as part of his plan to drive investment for ‘more jobs, better public services and lower taxes’, Jeremy Hunt announced investment into the life sciences sector and the NHS.

NHS productivity has been a hot topic, as more money is being spent on the NHS compared with pre-pandemic levels, yet fewer patients are being treated. Therefore, Jeremy Hunt’s plans to fully fund an NHS Productivity Plan will be welcomed. The £3.4 billion investment aims to modernise the NHS and make their IT systems more efficient, which the Chancellor noted would help unlock £35 billion in costs savings. This funding will:

  • Streamline operations by reducing 13 million hours lost due to IT system inefficiencies
  • Use AI to significantly decrease form filling by doctors
  • Digitise operating theatre processes to enable an additional 200,000 operations annually
  • Utilise AI to help doctors read MRI and CT scans more quickly, speeding up results for 130,000 patients per year
  • Enhance the NHS app to manage appointments effectively, potentially cutting missed appointments in half

It is promising that the narrative ‘invest to save’ is being utilised in this instance, as we recognise decision-makers are not always able to consider the longer-term benefits of upfront investments – be it digital technologies, capital infrastructure, or more innovative medicines – with the NHS experiencing significant financial pressures. However, whilst the Chancellor has kept the 1% real terms growth increase in public spending and increased funding to the NHS, health is more than the NHS. He has reversed planned increases to NI from earlier budgets planned to fund social care – potentially leading to delayed discharges from hospital – already a major brake on improvements in NHS productivity. In addition, whilst the Chancellor has provided additional funding for hospital care through diagnostics and surgery under the public service productivity plan, productivity in the NHS is also improved by preventing people from becoming sick – and there has been no extra funding for those services.

While no additional funding has been provided to stop people becoming sick, Jeremy Hunt has announced the UK Government’s decision to implement a tax on vaping and e-cigarettes. With the aim of discouraging non-smokers from taking up vaping, Mr Hunt confirmed the introduction of an excise duty on vaping products starting 26th October, along with the publication of a consultation on its design. Recognising the potential of vapes to aid smoking cessation, the Government will simultaneously raise tobacco duty to maintain the financial incentive for individuals to choose vaping over smoking. This tax on vaping and cigarettes will be welcomed, but the simultaneous freeze of the alcohol duty – another risk factor for many diseases – may seem incoherent policy to those interested in prevention.

For Life Sciences, Jeremy Hunt outlined the £45 million allocation towards medical research aimed at the development of new treatments for conditions including cancer, dementia, and epilepsy. This funding will be complemented by a significant boost to the UK’s pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities, with a £650 million investment by AstraZeneca. This investment is earmarked for the establishment of a new vaccine manufacturing hub in Liverpool, and the expansion of their biomedical campus in Cambridge. This additional investment, beyond those outlined in the Autumn Statement, indicates that the election period will not lead to a dramatic break in policy toward the life sciences.

Further information

MHP will be keeping you up to date with the latest news and analysis in this important election year. Please contact [email protected] (Public Affairs) or [email protected] (Health) for further information.