How Brexit gives us the opportunity to prioritize public services


Solvency II – an EU directive – acts as a barrier to unlocking investment in transport infrastructure and departure houses, says MP Shaun Bailey

Shaun Bailey, MP

Brexit gives us greater freedom over how the UK economy works. But the current investment insurance rules, a legacy of our EU membership, are an obstacle to ‘leveling up’. We must remove this roadblock and prioritize public services

In the heat of the debate around the Northern Ireland Protocol and Fisheries, we must not lose sight of the opportunities now open in the UK – which, if exploited, could hold the key to the leveling up and benefit our communities immensely.

An example is the European Solvency II directive. Originally designed to monitor the amount of capital held by an insurance company to reduce the risk of insolvency; this policy becomes a major obstacle to unlocking investments which would bring real benefits to British families.

The current rules make it much easier to invest in Amazon or Facebook than in tangible investments at home like transportation infrastructure or starting homes. This means that investments are often diverted from things like renewables and critical infrastructure, which are critical to our transition to net zero.

KPMG has estimated that at least £ 95 billion will not be reinvested in the UK, which could boost our economy and bring meaningful change to millions of people.

I hear eminent experts talk about how long-term infrastructure and public sector investments can take months, if not years, to get approved and that the ultimate losers are the ones with the least.

I want a strong public sector and I think it is right that a safety net exists. I would have been lost without him, as a young boy raised in a single parent family in a council house. But the money for the vital investment needed cannot come from the UK government alone and we must recognize the role of private business in prosperity across the country.

The current rules make it much easier to invest in Amazon or Facebook than in tangible investments at home like transportation infrastructure or starting homes.

It is not only investment that Solvency II hinders – it also makes it more expensive for small businesses to look after the health and well-being of their employees through insurance plans, something that is important in the post-pandemic workplace, and can have a tangible effect throughout our communities.

But the old EU rules treat these products unfairly. Employers are put off by higher bonuses, but it’s employees who pay the price when they don’t get the support they need and are pushed into the welfare state and out of the workforce – which poses a major risk to the mental and physical health of our citizens and communities.

Making these changes would require simple changes to existing UK law – something we are now able to do since Brexit.

I am often asked what it means to “level up”. For me, it is about equal opportunities across the country and improving everyone’s chances in life. One way to do this is to harness the power of the private sector to stimulate the global economy and strengthen our public services. It’s this partnership that counts when it comes to delivering to areas like mine at Wednesbury, Oldbury and Tipton in my constituency of West Bromwich West.

As we start a new year, I want to make sure those of us sent to Westminster to find ways to make life easier for voters put Solvency II reform at the top of their lists. We all deserve a better start to 2022, so let’s make it happen now.

More information on Unum

Specialized benefits provider Unum works with MPs to make it easier for UK SMEs to access insurance products that support the health and well-being of their workforce. These changes could impact constituencies across the country

Unum offers financial protection in the workplace, including life insurance, critical illness insurance, dental coverage and income protection insurance. At the end of 2020 Unum was protecting 1.6 million people in the UK and paid £ 360million in 2020 – almost £ 7million per week in benefits to our customers – providing security and peace of mind to individuals and their families.

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