Commission Chair John Allan Reflects on 2020

I think we will all be glad to put 2020 behind us. For many businesses and individuals it has been a challenging and saddening year. But some positives have emerged. We have learned to manage radical change at high speed eg businesses moving to home working, universities going digital. We have also needed to find new ways of working together in collaborative and original ways. I’m especially grateful to my colleagues on the Commission where we have brought together leaders from many different industries and advisors from a wide variety of institutions to consider how we can collectively make the U.K. economy stronger, fairer, greener and more resilient.


As a Commission we want to hear from a wide range of views to help inform our analysis and final recommendations, but also because we believe that to tackle the challenges facing the UK will require a collaboration between Government, business and society. That was our motivation in establishing our Advisory Group and Policy Panel, with experts who could represent the diversity of British business, civic society as well as providing expertise in key areas such as climate change and infrastructure.


Our initial discussions with these groups have helped us identify some key areas for our final report, to be published in Q1 next year, where we will produce bold and innovative policy recommendations.  These are: strengthening business investment; institutional reform and devolution; delivering net zero; skills and building community and personal resilience. And in the last few weeks of 2020 we have run policy workshops on these topics with our Advisory Group members and experts from local government and small business.


The quality of these discussions has been very high and again I have been incredibly encouraged by the appetite of experts to contribute their time and thinking to our work. It is clear that we could have talked for much longer had the time been available to us!


Although we ran separate workshops, these issues are interrelated and there were some common themes emerging from those discussions. For example, in all of our workshops we heard:


  1. that while intervention in specific areas is important and can drive outcomes, they are no substitute for getting the fundamentals of economic policy right;
  2. about the importance of local solutions to building community resilience and delivering net zero, which echoed many of the themes of our first paper and
  3. as a business led Commission – strengthening the role that companies play as employers, investors, and sources of expertise in tackling these issues also emerged as a consistent theme across the various discussions


We will now take away these discussions to continue work on our final paper. In the new year, we will publish the second of our papers where the theme of collaboration will feature heavily. The paper will examine the role of business in tackling the issues identified in our first paper and ask how business and government can work together to deliver levelling up and net zero.


Thank you to everyone who has participated so far in the work of the Commission and in particular thanks to our Advisory Group and Policy Panellists. We have now stopped taking formal submissions to the Commission but we are still keen to hear your ideas for transformational change, so please get in touch if you have an original idea.