Delivered by Prince Charles this year, the Queen’s Speech covered a variety of topics and Bills, but will anything help investors and the wealthy? Patrick Brusnahan asks the experts
Anne Fairweather, Head of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Hargreaves Lansdown
As the Government looks to right size financial services legislation for the UK post Brexit in the Financial Services Bill, Hargreaves Lansdown are calling for a better settlement for retail investors. From better access to IPOs to harnessing the opportunities of innovative technologies to allow firms to use data to better guide clients, this is an opportunity to update our rules for future. We welcome the focus on tackling scams and believe that clients will be better protected with more personalised relevant guidance from firms they know and trust.
Nicholas Hyett, Investment Analyst, Wealth Club
As usual the Queen’s Speech was a mix of motherhood and apple pie, at least as far as the Conservative party’s core voters are concerned. However, there were a few titbits in there that might attract the attention of the UK start-up community and early-stage investors.
The commitment to opening up public sector procurement processes to smaller businesses isn’t new, but it’s a long held gripe among smaller companies. Public sector contracts are potentially highly lucrative, but tend to ping pong between a handful of large providers. The reduced competition isn’t good for taxpayers and could stifle innovation. Improved access to public contracts has been a target of successive governments though – so don’t expect progress to be quick or easy. Still, new technologies such as Opportuni’s public sector tending platform, sometimes described as the “tinder for tenders”, may help this time round.
The explicit commitment to improving innovation in agricultural technology will attract attention too. It’s an area where we’ve seen increased activity of late, whether that’s Hummingbird Technologies’ image analytics, which has the potential to enhance crop yields, Aramune’s improved animal feeds, or Muddy Machines asparagus harvesting robot called Sprout. Innovative start-ups here can not only prove lucrative in themselves, but have the potential to reduce carbon emission and reduce global food costs too.
Start-ups have roles to play in other areas too – from greener energy and transport to creating new higher value jobs across the UK. It’s a shame there wasn’t something more in the speech itself – but the broad brush strokes still provide plenty of space for government to support the UK’s smaller companies.
Jamie Johnson, CEO, FJP Investment
It’s encouraging that today’s Queen’s Speech has signalled a renewed effort in favour of tackling geographic inequality across the UK as part of the forthcoming levelling-up and regeneration bill.
In the face of the current pressing economic, social and environmental challenges, now more than ever, it is crucial that housing is put at the forefront of the government’s agenda and while a root and branch shake-up of the planning system is still required, the reforms referenced today are a step in the right direction towards increasing the number of homes that this country so desperately needs.
David Hannah, group chairman, Cornerstone Tax
The promise to help households with their cost of living announced at The Queen’s Speech is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. If we look at the average UK house price, it is higher than ever before, meaning it’s more unaffordable than ever for individuals – unless wages are increased.
If we look at what has been going on – house price growth, retail inflation, energy costs surging, that’s going to put pressure on employers to raise wages. I believe wages will rise, meaning real spending power will not actually decrease. If you borrow a hundred thousand pounds today, the fixed figure of one hundred thousand pounds doesn’t rise in line with inflation. So, in five years’ time, that debt is probably worth half what it is today. In high inflationary times with relatively low interest rates, it makes sense to borrow. The debt is being eroded by inflation, whereas the value of the asset (the house) is actually going up in line or ahead of inflation. It’s a way to make real returns.
The problem we do have is the rate of demand and supply. If builders are building and they’re over supplying, it will soften the increase and the appreciation in asset value. But, if the number of people wanting to buy houses continue to exceed the supply, then those prices are going to rise.
We have an open market in the UK which means not only are domestic purchasers and investors looking to buy but we have inbound investors. We also have quite a number of people relocating to the UK. Overall, I expect demand for UK housing to continue to outstrip supply – pushing price increases ahead of inflation and provided wages are increased, the affordability of housing will stay in lockstep.