This party conference season let’s also think about issues other than Brexit

After the long summer break, party conference season is underway and negotiations over the EU Exit deal (both with the EU and within the UK) are in full swing.  The news agenda is dominated by Brexit machinations and this looks set to reach fever pitch next week at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.  Yet there are big questions beyond Brexit that should not be ignored.

For me, attending for the first time in my new role as Government and Health Industries Lead for PwC, this is an opportunity to take a longer lens look into the future and join the myriad of rich discussions in the fringes of the conferences about what’s needed from government, businesses and the public to meet the fundamental changes facing the UK over the next decade - and decades to come.  

How might government and our public services be transformed to work towards a fairer future?  With a Spending Review coming up in 2019, what principles should guide future public spending to deliver on the government’s goal of ‘a country that works for everyone’?  We’ll try and start to answer these questions at conference, where we’re working with the think tank, Reform to host a roundtable session, bringing together cross-government thinking on the role of the Spending Review in stimulating investment and public service transformation.  

We will be exploring the role of new technologies such as AI, mobile, digitisation and big data.  How is the job market changing and what impact will this have on public service provision, the economy, as well as people’s lives?  How can the Spending Review encourage joint working between public services to meet desired goals, rather than treating them in isolation?  We know from the broad base of our work with our clients that the appetite is there to examine and address these questions.

This year we are also supporting the Centre for Cities’ welcome receptions at the Labour Conference in Liverpool and in Birmingham for the Conservative Conference.  Party conference season is an opportunity to focus the Westminster village (and the eyes that follow it) on these great cities and the opportunities they offer for lives inside and outside of work.  This will be a chance to take stock on how local industrial strategies and local public services are helping cities and regions to deliver good growth. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and his shadow equivalent are joining these events, alongside city leadership, sharing their ideas for urban growth in the coming years.

Jane Forbes

PwC’s purpose is to work with others to help tackle the biggest issues facing the world today.  In my part of the business this means both generating innovative solutions with Whitehall and supporting frontline public service delivery.  I know that getting the EU Exit deal right is of critical importance to each and every one of us in the UK.  At the same time, there is a broader conversation to be had about building a fairer future for the UK.  I’m looking forward to some very practical conversations about how we can come together to deliver this.

Quentin Cole | UK Leader of Industry for Government and Health Industries
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