Events roundup: November 2020 | IPT

Our November events programme was one of our most diverse and wide ranging since we began hosting discussions virtually. Across seven events we were able to cover topics relating to financial services, decarbonisation, loneliness, and life sciences.

Once again we were fortunate enough to have a number of high profile chairs and speakers including Andy Briggs, Group Chief Executive Officer, Phoenix alongside Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee as well as Wera Hobhouse MP, Shadow Leader of House for Liberal Democrats chairing a discussion on Smart Grids.

Two’s Company: Tackling Loneliness in the UK

On Monday 02 November, we hosted a Virtual Event that welcomed guest speakers Joanna Dring, Head of Media at Heineken and Professor Niall Hayes, Professor of Information and Organisation, Lancaster University. The discussion focused on how the Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the increasing issue of loneliness in the UK across all generations.

Main points raised:

  • The link between access to public transport and experiences of loneliness; the Government’s role in supporting transport providers and provide substantial infrastructure is crucial to enabling people to socialise and access community hubs
  • Improved digital literacy among older generations and mediators could assist in connecting lonely relatives, neighbours, and friends to access online communities and reduce isolation
  • How can social enterprises be brought together with organisation, public services, and communities, enabling a multi-agency response to tackling loneliness

Read more in our guest blog by Professor Niall Hayes

Making Energy Smart: Developing Smart Grids
On Tuesday 03 November 2020, we hosted a virtual event chaired by Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Justice, Women and Equalities, and Shadow Leader of the House. She was joined by Stewart Reid, Head of Future Networks, SSE Bjoern Reinke, Director of Data & Data Science, Drax. The discussion considered how the new energy supply model of smart grids can be developed whilst ensuring the existing system is securely providing electricity to homes and businesses across the country.

Main points raised:

  • The importance of building consumer confidence and engagement to help demystify the issues and complexities of smart grids.
  • The role of stakeholders in ensuring that policies and regulation are consistent with local goals and empowering local energy planning.
  • Whether the Government should be making industry carbon capture and neutrality mandatory.

The Road Ahead: Decarbonising Road Transport

On Monday 16 November, we hosted a Virtual Event between parliamentarians and industry representativesThe discussion was chaired by Ruth Cadbury MP, Select Committee on Transport and welcomed guest speakers Peter Stephens, Head of UK External and Government Affairs at Nissan, Tom Clarke, Head of Electrical Vehicle Strategy at LV= and Professor Dave Stone, Professor in Electrical Engineering at Sheffield University. The discussion focused on the role of electrical vehicles (EVs) in achieving the Government target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Main points raised:

  • The need for improvement in charging infrastructure for EVs to provide easy access points that are reliable, frequent and consistent
  • The importance of education to ensure the public have clarity about the future of transport and understand the importance of decarbonisation. It is imperative to raise and awareness and build confidence in the use of EVs to stimulate demand
  • What role will hybrid technology play in building consumer awareness and confidence? Could hybrid vehicles be used as a bridge of transition from traditional vehicles to EVs?

A Greener Nation: Promoting Recycling in the UK

On Tuesday 17 November 2020, we held a virtual event chaired by Derek Thomas MP, Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The guest speakers were Tim Rotheray, Director, Viridor and Dr Sebastien Farnaud, Professor, Centre for Sport and Exercise and Life Sciences, Coventry University and Tim Moerman, Corporate Affairs Manager (Europe), Anheuser-Busch InBev.  The discussion focused on how government, industry and households can create a clear recycling framework for the UK and remove the barriers and confusion surrounding recycling

Main points raised:

  • Improvement to the UKs recycling levels could be driven by greater regulation, policy focus, technical innovation, and in particular public education. A greater understanding of the environmental and social cost of single-use objects is needed.
  • Many consumers want to recycle but lack clarity on which plastics can and cannot be recycled. There needs to be greater uniformity and simplicity of recycling systems across the UK.
  • There needs to be forward planning investment now to avoid a disconnect in what policy makers and investors want to achieve in the coming decades and the infrastructure and workforce and the skills needed.

Ensuring Financial Inclusion

On Wednesday 18 November, we hosted a Virtual Event between parliamentarians and industry representatives. The discussion was chaired by Lee Rowley MP and welcomed guest speakers Darren Smith, Corporate Relationships Manager, Yorkshire Building Society, Louise Drake, National Sales Manager, Yorkshire Building Society and Professor Thankom Arun, Professor of Global Development and Accountability, Essex Business School. The discussion focused on considering ways in which people could be encouraged to save, increase their confidence in financial services and improve personal financial management.

Main points raised:

  • 11m people in the UK currently have no form of savings whilst 7.5m workers have less than £100 saved. How can people be encouraged to save when interest rates are particularly low and many have unexpectedly lost their job due to the pandemic?
  • Should digital inclusion and financial inclusion be considered hand-in-hand as the use of cash declines and more banking services move online? How can industry and government work together to address the digital divide?
  • The importance of financial education and tools to improve personal financial management and end unhealthy relationships with money

Read more in our guest blog by Professor Thankom Arun

Generation veXed: Solving the Retirement Puzzle

On Monday 23 November 2020, we held a virtual event chaired by Stephen Timms MP, Chair, Select Committee on Work & Pensions. He was joined by Andy Briggsm, Group Chief Executie Officer, Phonex Group. The discussion focussed on what policy measures are required to support greater pension saving amongst Generation X and the wider population.

Main points raised:

  • The increasing prevalence of pension scams and their devastating results. With wider pension freedoms, it is important to support savers with education and greater awareness to prevent vulnerability to scams.
  • The significant financial advice gap in the UK affecting up to 16m people and many barriers preventing people accessing guidance on pensions.
  • Evaluated the potential for greater regulation and empowerment of trustees to assist in preventing savers from scams and role and remit of a possible second Pensions Commission.

Life Sciences: A Golden Age of Innovation

On Tuesday 24 November, we hosted a Virtual Event between parliamentarians and industry representatives. The discussion was chaired by Daniel Zeichner MP, Chair of All-Party Group on Life Sciences and welcomed guest speakers Dr Samin Saeed, Chief Scientific Officer and Medical Director, Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK and Professor Anna Hine, Associate Dean of Enterprise, Aston School of Life and Health Sciences. The discussion focused on the need to develop research facilities and increase funding to allow for greater innovation and ensure the UK becomes a world leader in life sciences.

Main points raised:

  • The successful production of several vaccines for COVID-19 has shown the incredible potential of the UK life sciences sector and how results can be achieved when barriers are removed and demand is high
  • The NHS is a key component of the UK life sciences ecosystem; it needs to be adequately resourced to not only provide high quality patient services but to offer R&D infrastructure
  • How can government and industry ensure the UK remains an attractive place for research investment?