Just a month after finalising Brexit, the UK Government has issued its consultation "on the best way to design a bespoke approach to subsidy control", with 43 questions to be answered by 31st March 2021. They are all very interesting points to raise but are almost always intended to give an answer that can only result in one outcome. However, I fear the consultation masks a lack of grounded experience of all the scenarios that many organisations face, whether they be:
- local authorities seeking to stimulate their local economies,
- housing associations building more affordable homes,
- social care providers contending with the current pandemic,
- charities seeking to keep afloat their trading arms,
- investors making choices where to build new industrial or manufacturing bases,
- social enterprises contributing to opportunities for the 'left behind', or
- businesses seeking to embrace the net-zero carbon challenge.
If you have practical examples of scenarios that require a clearer answer, I would be interested to hear from you and we will see if we can work them into our response, which I have no doubt that our subsidy controls team will be compiling in answer to the Government's request for "thoughts on any additions to the principles underpinning the regime". We need clarity, certainty, but above all reality for a subsidies system that works for all, and reaches the parts of the UK that need support and care most.
The government aims to deliver a regime that: facilitates strategic interventions to support government priorities, including supporting the economy’s recovery from COVID-19 takes account of the economic needs of the UK’s individual nations and strengthens the economic bonds of our Union protects the UK’s competitive and dynamic market economy ensures that subsidies in the UK are given in line with our international commitments including those in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA)