Hot on the heels of the Green Paper relating to Public Procurement (Green Paper: Transforming public procurement - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)), its now the turn of Subsidy Controls and the consultation surrounding plans to create a new arena for the post-Brexit United Kingdom to enjoy (Subsidy control: designing a new approach for the UK (publishing.service.gov.uk)).
Having spent time preparing a submission to the Public Procurement Green Paper and now having read the Subsidy Control paper and attending a meeting hosted by BEIS yesterday morning to discuss its scope, its struck me how difficult a position we find ourselves in. We now have the relative freedom, subject to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and various other trade agreements that we have in place, to do what we as the United Kingdom want to do when it comes to procurement rules and state aid...or do we?
The reality is that we do have the ability to look at our processes, streamline things and set up a system that works just for us. That's great, and as a tax payer, looking at the various proposals you can see that having a clearly defined set of rules which work for us with checks and balances in place is just brilliant and exactly what we need. We can focus on ensuring that the levelling up agenda can be adhered to, shine a spot light on things such as innovation and green energy, offering support to those companies working in that field perhaps in a manner they've not been able to before. Wonderful! Just what we need!
But how will they compare against what we had before? Will they be more stringent? Will they make our businesses less competitive in an international market? Will they place further burden on SMEs meaning that they will shy away from applying for subsidies or tendering for public contracts? Is this another case of us 'platinum plating' things? Only time will tell.
One thing that you and I and everyone with an interest in this can do though, is be part of the conversation. The consultation period in relation to Subsidy Control runs through until 31st March. Why not take a look and share your thoughts on this. Without a wide range of input from across the United Kingdom, different sectors, different view points, the Government will be forced to act in a relative vacuum. This impacts all of us, this is our chance to mould things moving forwards and to create the post-Brexit UK that we all want.
Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, we have an opportunity to develop home-grown solutions to longstanding social and economic problems – to make our own policy choices and stand by our own decisions. We will seize this moment.