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The transcript for ICAEW Insights In Focus podcast episode 61: 'How to build a workforce of the future'.


Philippa Lamb


  • Iain Wright, Managing Director, Reputation and Influence, ICAEW
  • Frances Haque, Chief Economist, Santander UK

Philippa Lamb: Hello and welcome to the Insights In Focus Podcast. I’m Philippa Lamb. This time we’re reviewing the health of the UK economy. Back on January 4, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made five pledges for the year ahead. Three of those pledges related to key indicators of economic and fiscal health: halving inflation, stimulating economic growth, and reducing the national debt. With 2024 rapidly approaching, how is the PM faring in meeting his promises?

To discuss the progress made so far and what the rest of the year may hold, I’m joined by Iain Wright, ICAEW Managing Director of Reputation and Influence, and Frances Haque, Chief Economist at Santander UK. Welcome back, both, thanks for being with us.

Iain, it’s probably worth starting by saying that these big economic issues, they’re not politically partisan, are they? They’re about long-term structural issues.

Iain Wright: I think you’re absolutely right. And of course, a political party in government can have policies that can change things, because that’s the nature of government and why parties want to get into power. But actually, there are long-term forces that we’ve had for 30 or 40 years that are, I’m reluctant to say coming home to roost, but successive crises over the last 15 years have exposed some of the structural weaknesses of the UK economy. And any administration, and indeed a series of administrations spanning over 10 years, really do need to tackle those structural challenges.

PL: Frances, essentially these issues boil down to productivity, don’t they? We are hearing a lot about this in the media from both the major parties right now. But as Iain says, surely what’s needed must be a long-term plan.

Frances Haque: Yeah, and I think that’s part of the problem, that we don’t seem to have a plan. There’s all sorts of things that need to change, not least becoming greener. But how we’re getting from A to B to C still doesn’t feel very crystallised, certainly not in my mind, and I imagine that’s the same for other people. So, you do need to have those touch points out there, so people know where they’re heading and what they need to do to get to those different stages, particularly with something like greening and with productivity, because these are not things that are quick to do. Investing in infrastructure takes time, you only have to look at the length of time it takes to build a railway, HS2, for example. These things take time, but you need that plan there, and you also – and this is one of the problems – you need to have a certain amount of understanding between political parties. Of course, they will have differences, they’ll want to do things in different ways. But for infrastructure, this goes beyond the five-year government cycle, therefore you need to have buy-in across the board on a lot of these types of projects.

IW: I challenge that, actually. I’m not necessarily of the opinion that there hasn’t been a plan. There’s been too many plans. I think there’s a real mismatch in that long-term certainty that business requires, policy stability over a 10-year period, and that short-term changing. The short-term political cycle is completely at odds with the long-term business and economic cycle, and how you try to rectify that is really important. In terms of plans, from the time of George Osborne we’ve had a productivity plan, then we had an industrial strategy, then we’ve had a plan for growth, then we’ve had a growth plan, and now we’ve got the four Es that I don’t think anybody’s heard of from the current Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt. And business quite naturally just tunes out and says, ‘Look, I’m just gonna get on with what I need to do regardless of what that wider economic and business policy says.’ And that’s to the detriment of our long-term economic and productivity performance.

PL: You make an excellent point. And I think you and Frances are on the same page that long-term is key here. Shall we look at the pledges themselves? The first one is halving inflation. Now, the consumer price index was 10.7% in Q4 last year, the latest measure from July is 6.8%. So, some improvement but obviously a considerable way to go. Frances, would you say this pledge, it’s the most important one, isn’t it?

FH: I think it’s important that we see inflation falling back to the 2% target for a number of reasons, not least because people really feel it in the pocket. Prices rising 10% is massive. So, I think that is important, but 5% – 5.3 is the target for the end of the year – that’s still very high when you consider that 2% is the target. There is quite a lot of work still to do even if we do get to that government target.

PL: At the beginning of the year, when Mr Sunak made that pledge, it looked quite reasonable that it would be achieved, didn’t it? Is that the case now? It’s looking a bit less likely, isn’t it?

FH: I think it’s still achievable, but it really depends, I suspect, on what happens to commodity prices over the next month or two, because obviously, with things like energy, you’re looking in advance. But I think there is a good chance that it might fall back. Food inflation we know is starting to drop, which obviously for everybody is a good thing given it’s an essential good. But there is that risk around commodity prices. Certainly petrol prices have been a little bit more volatile recently. And obviously, with the Ukraine crisis still carrying on, as far as we can see potentially for years to come – there doesn’t seem to be any talk yet about peace coming – it’s difficult. And we’re heading for the winter season, which is when demand for gas and oil will increase again.

PL: It’s important to drill down into the specifics, because as you say, food inflation is still very, very high, isn’t it?

FH: Yes, it is. It was around just under 15%, I think. But it is falling back, and there is talk of it reducing again ­– hopefully in September we’ll see that fall back again. It’s going in the right direction. But yes, what felt like a target that was very reasonable back at the end of last year, now it’s probably going to be close.

PL: Why do you think we’re hearing so little about this rise in petrol prices? That would normally be something that will be all over the media, but we haven’t heard much about it, have we?

FH: No, we haven’t actually. And it’s slightly strange, given that is something that people feel fairly quickly, because obviously, you’re filling up your car on a more regular basis. So it does seem to be slightly strange that that hasn’t cropped up. I don’t know, maybe the newspapers feel that we’ve had enough of this, and they don’t want to keep banging on about it. But certainly, I think the question for people or maybe for reporters is around what’s happening with interest rates. And the thing there is around wage growth rather than necessarily petrol prices.

PL: Iain, would you agree there’s been some quieter, less publicised drivers, the sort of thing Frances has been talking about?

IW: Yes, and I don’t really know the reason for that, because normal everyday people who might be filling up their car to go to work or even to have a holiday in the summer have really seen a difference. It’s gone up by a fair amount, six, seven pence a litre in the last couple of weeks, and no real mention of that, Equally, and this might not directly affect people in their households, but the FTSE, the stock market has declined quite significantly over the last couple of weeks. It’s lost about 3.5% of its value. And you don’t see a lot of that in the media either. So I don’t know, I don’t make decisions on behalf of what media cover. But certainly, those things affecting our economy, affecting investment and affecting households’ expenditure is definitely changing over the summer.

PL: What about global issues like the China economic slowdown?

IW: Well, I think that’s really big, and I think the cause of a lot of the stock market change is that China is having its own problems. And as a result of that, the demand there for one of the largest economies in the world, one of the most impactful economies in the world, is having an impact across the whole global economy. And we’re bearing the brunt of that. And of course, as Frances said, the wider points about Ukraine is still an impact. We’ve had a relatively mild winter and a relatively mild summer – probably not a dry summer. But as we go into winter, energy and the volatility of gas supplies will start to come to the fore again.

PL: We still import a lot of that don’t we? A lot more than other European countries.

IW: Well, I think we import a lot of everything, and I think that’s one of the reasons why our inflation rate is probably higher than other comparable countries. Core inflation – even if you strip out things like food and energy – remains persistently high at around about 7%. That would worry me if I was the Bank of England trying to get inflation down to 2%. But you’re absolutely right, we import a lot of energy. We have less storage for gas and rely on interconnectors from continental Europe. And we do import an awful lot of food now, and some of the ecosystem, some of the supply chain relating to our food supply is changing as well. Where I come from, Teesside, there’s just been an announcement that a nitrogen fertiliser plant is closing down. It’s been the hallmark of the chemicals industry in Teesside for the best part of a century. We all rely on nitrogen fertiliser to make sure our food is safe. We have no capability of that in the UK any more, so we will be reliant on nitrogen fertiliser from elsewhere. That makes us more vulnerable to any shocks in the global economy.

PL: And what’s driven that close-down specifically Iain?

IW: Well, it’s about energy prices, and it’s about where can we get good, strong, cheap, reliable sources of gas, particularly hydrogen, and this might have an impact upon our transition to a net zero economy. Part of that could be how can we use nitrogen an awful lot more? These global companies are making decisions about where to locate their capabilities, and they’ve moved their nitrogen fertiliser capability from Billingham in Teesside to the US because of cheap energy supplies.

PL: That takes me to another question. Frances, wage growth – obviously, we are we are still seeing strikes. It’s been more pronounced here in the UK, hasn’t it?

FH: It has, yes. And that partly probably goes back to the fact that we import an awful lot of our goods. We’ve therefore got higher inflation as a result, which has led to higher wage growth. In the UK it’s certainly much higher than the US and higher than Europe. And eventually, of course, these feed through and form the second-round effects that that everyone talks about, and that’s where the problems then really start to bite in terms of getting inflation back down. If wage growth continues on this trajectory, then we are going to have inflation persisting for a lot longer than the Bank of England would want.

Having said that, we are seeing changes coming through, we are seeing the labour market becoming a little less tight. And that will potentially have an effect – less vacancies and possibly the growth of the economy starting to shrink. The Purchasing Managers Index survey was out last week, which made for fairly poor reading in the sense of how the economy is doing. So it’ll be interesting to see, maybe we are really starting to see some of this constriction coming through from such high interest rates. But time will tell on that one.

PL: That takes us very neatly to the second pledge we’ve got to talk about. The PM did indeed pledge to grow the economy. We saw GDP grow 0.1% in Q1, 0.2% in Q2. So far so good. But crucially, the economy still remains smaller than it was before the pandemic, doesn’t it?

FH: It does, yes. And to be honest with you, 0.1, 0.2 are not great numbers for the UK economists.

PL: I was just throwing in a little optimism there, Frances.

FH: Absolutely. But it’s better than negative, we’ll take that. And this is where it will be interesting, what happens over the next six months in terms of the economic outlook. The Bank of England have been pretty clear in saying that we may be hitting the top of the rate cycle. But that does not mean that rates are about to come down, they’re going to stay higher for longer because now they’re going to try and squeeze the rest of the inflation out of the economy.

It’s extremely difficult to grow an economy in a period where interest rates are rising in order to try and shrink the economy, because what they want to do is get to demand. It’s very strange to have those two pledges together, and the only way you can do it is via productivity growth. Unfortunately, as we know, that’s not so good in the UK at the moment, but when we’re talking about the planning, that is really where we want to be focusing – getting that productivity off, and that will help grow the economy, and it will help shrink inflation, too.

PL: There is clear friction, isn’t there, between pledges one and two? Looking abroad, how are we comparing with other countries on this?

FH: We’re the only G7 country that hasn’t gone back to its pre-pandemic growth levels, so we’re certainly doing less well than others. Having said that, Germany has its own problems as well – they have had a technical recession. And it is a technical recession, it was very small negative growth for them. But they were very dependent on Russian gas, they’re trying to transition away from that. But generally speaking, we do seem to be somewhat of the bottom of the pile.

But I’m surprised that we have done so well in terms of economic growth, that we hadn’t had a recession. There was a lot of talk about stagflation, but I think what we’re talking about now is stagnation – we’re just going to be kind of bobbing along at very low growth rates. And that’s not what we need. If you want to invest in the economy, we need to borrow, we therefore need to grow. So one can certainly understand why it’s a pledge, and the focus has got to be on getting that productivity rate up.

PL: Iain, this all rests on the point you made earlier, a lack of investment over 20 years. Our public fabric, it’s frayed, isn’t it?

IW: I think so. I think people are somewhat disillusioned and have that sense that was prevalent in the late 1970s about national decline. I’m not suggesting it’s as bad as then, when the rubbish wasn’t collected in the streets, and the dead were not buried, that sort of thing in that winter of discontent. But I think there’s a feeling that nothing seems to run on time. We’re recording this when the air traffic control system hasn’t worked. And that could be a very specific technical error that just affects that, but it adds to that national narrative about ‘does anything work in this country any more’? And I think it links in, a year or so outside of a general election, where, has any politician got any answers to this? Is there anybody who can turn this round and power us towards better productivity, economic growth and rising living standards? And I think that’s the general sense of disillusionment against politicians and politics.

PL: All parties are grappling with some fundamental demographic problems here, aren’t they? The UK has an ageing population, and we also have a lot of economically inactive people.

FH: Yes, and that is a real issue, particularly for productivity. And interestingly, because of our immigration policy, we’re going to struggle to get the people that we need in order to grow the economy. It was quite interesting to see that Germany had looked at their immigration policy and have tried to soften it in order to try and deal with this issue, because we’re certainly not the only country that’s got this problem of an ageing population. So, it’s quite interesting to see how different countries are dealing with it. But certainly, the fact that we’ve got an ever-growing number of people on long-term sick – which is going to be related to what’s happening in the NHS – does not help the UK.

PL: And it’s mental health issues that are leading the field there. Am I right in saying that it used to be muscular skeletal, but now it’s mental health?

FH: I certainly think that there’s been a big jump in that. And the problem with that is, it’s been a big jump in the younger generation. When we talk about long-term sick, we’re talking about the whole of your working-age life, but those at the tail end of it tend to have more of the physical problems, whereas it’s the younger group that have these mental health issues. Whether that is to do with COVID, whether that was just because more of these things are being diagnosed – there’s obviously a greater awareness of it than there ever was – is difficult to know. But the trouble is, it’s not reducing. So whilst the number of inactive people has actually fallen, the long-term sickness has increased. We don’t seem to be able to lower that group at the moment. But the real worry is that’s got lots of younger people in it.

PL: We saw something of a geographic population shift during the pandemic, and high house prices have obviously driven people outside the cities. And this is where poor infrastructure becomes a real issue as well, doesn’t it? Particularly digital infrastructure?

FH: Yeah, I think that’s true. I think we all notice it when we go out of the big cities. You just never know whether you’re going to be able to make that phone call on your mobile or get 4G or 5G on your phone to be able to work. You can see things are trying to improve, but you need a tremendous amount of infrastructure, certainly on the mobile side of things, to be able to deal with that. It’s quite interesting to see what’s happening there, because you’d have thought there’s more demand now in those outer areas than there was before. So, maybe that will be fixed in time. But you know, it’s expensive to fix the problem, and you do need a bit of government help here for that.

PL: How big a problem do you think that is Iain? Particularly I’m thinking about levelling up here.

IW: I think one of the biggest structural problems that we have is a massive imbalance of power: economic power, political power, even media power. And maybe one of the reasons why petrol prices haven’t had the coverage in terms of their rising prices is because people in the media might not use a car as much as somebody in Harrogate or Newcastle.

PL: There may well be some truth in that.

IW: And of course, the media today is dominated by ultra low emissions, which don’t affect the vast majority of people in this country. So you can an inherent bias of a London-based media, politics, and certainly the economy. I’m not trying to decry a London or southeast economy, it’s absolutely vital that we have those regions powering and helping our living standards across the country. But actually, what we do need is a fairer, more balanced economy in every region, contributing their strengths to make sure you can see rising living standards. And I do think, Philippa, that one of the things that you mentioned about the participation in the labour market, fueled by younger people, and maybe mental health crisis – that’s the effects of COVID, certainly, and I think that’s part of ‘do we need to do this any more? Life’s too short, you only get one life.’ That sort of thing.

But I also think it’s part of that whole narrative of our economic story: one generation does better than the previous generation. That’s really under strain in a way that we haven’t seen since the Second World War. The idea that you will get on, you’ll do better than your parents, that you’ll get a good job, that you’ll get a good house, you’ll be on the property ladder. With rising interest rates, rising mortgages and rising rents, I think a lot of young people who might be going into the cities to secure opportunity are now thinking, ‘I can’t afford to do that, and I can’t afford to travel and commute into London or other big cities either.’ As Frances said, we really do need to tackle these big fundamental problems in the economy, about regional imbalance, about infrastructure investments, about a whole range of different economic resilience and capability, as well as skills. But as somebody once said, there’s no money left.

PL: And that growing disparity between people who are economically more stable and those who aren’t, we saw that in a story running in recent days about young people buying their first homes, and just how much family money plays into that now. The haves and the have-nots.

IW: I think that social mobility point is really important. Whereas before, you could be going into chartered accountancy, getting a training contract, setting up a flat-share with a couple of mates in similar situations, and a bit of money in order to get on that property ladder without the bank of mum and dad. Now that is increasingly difficult, and of course, it’s getting more so as interest rates have moved from historically very low to more like the norm. That’s been a generational shift. People are not aware of 5, 6, 7% mortgage rates.

PL: And rents, of course, are extremely high – 40, 50% even of income in cities like London.

IW: Exactly. Again, that’s the point about a younger person in their 20s about to start on their career, wanting to move to London, that Dick Whittington effect, but thinking, ‘I am being priced out, I certainly can’t afford a house, but now I can’t even afford to rent.’ And if it’s commutable, the transport costs of travelling to London are becoming ever more prohibitive as well. People have been locked out of opportunity unless you might have family money behind you. That’s not a good well-functioning economy. Part of a good well-functioning economy is good, smooth social mobility, to enable talent wherever they are, to achieve their opportunity.

PL: Frances, just to wrap up this particular section, we haven’t talked much about the costs associated with the shift to the green economy. We’ve been hearing a lot about this about London specifically, and emission free zones. But there’s a much broader issue and a really big bill coming with all that, isn’t there?

FH: Yes, I think there is. And the trouble is, you know from survey data that that people do want to do their bit. They do understand why we need to have a massive shift here. But do they want to pay for it? Well, not so much. That’s inevitable, and particularly not now. And this is an issue for government too. How do we deal with that? How do we get to where we want to be without having to spend too much money on it? Because the government haven’t got any money at the moment, and everyone else is struggling too, so it’s a big ask.

But the other problem with greening the economy is inevitably it will raise prices elsewhere, at least in the short term. Hopefully over the longer term that would fade, but you are probably going to have a period where inflation is just going to feel and be potentially higher than we’ve had for the last 10, 20 years, where inflation has been very stable and very low.

That was partly helped by globalisation, certainly prior to the 2008 recession. We really benefited from globalisation and the lowering of import prices. Now I think we’re going to see a bit of reverse for that. And that is hard, because interest rates have gone back to kind of levels which a lot of us slightly older people will have seen before and have paid as part of mortgages, whereas for the new generation coming through, they’ve had low interest rates and low inflation. So it’s almost like a double whammy coming at them, and it’s very hard for them to be able to then budget for that as well.

PL: Let’s move on to our last pledge, and that’s reducing the national debt. Measured in relation to GDP, debt did reach 100% for the first time since 1961. Is it fair to say that here, success looks less likely?

FH: Actually, interestingly, on the debt breaching 100%, when we had the data released last week they actually managed to change that to just under 100%. That’s the great thing about economic data, you can never wholly rely on the first reading of it. This is always the issue with economic data, it doesn’t half move around a bit.

But yes, fact that it’s up at those levels is seriously concerning. It wouldn’t be so bad if the economy was now growing at a faster rate or faster pace, but because it isn’t, that really then becomes an issue. And it becomes an issue, partly, because from an investment perspective – we’re talking about infrastructure investment and all the rest of it – and then that makes that much harder. You’re gonna have to make some very large decisions in terms of what we then pay for and what we don’t. Anyone who’s an economist will tell you, the first thing you learn is you have to decide there’s scarcity, and you have to make decisions as to what you want to focus on. But the problem we’ve got is with no wiggle room it looks very difficult to see where you’re going to get that money for the infrastructure changes that we need in this country.

PL: Iain, thinking about how we got here, in fairness, there have been some enormous unexpected challenges in recent years.

IW: In preparing for this, I tried to think of another comparable period where there were just successive waves of crisis inflicted on society and the economy. It’s very difficult. If you think of a 15-year period, from say, now back to 2008, we’ve had the global financial crash – which precipitated austerity and wiped out business investment, the likes of which we’re still suffering from now. We’ve had that austerity, which reduced that capital investment. We had Brexit – and whatever you think of Brexit, changing fundamentally the relationship with your largest and most influential trading partner is bound to have an impact on the friction of trade. And then we have the biggest public health epidemic in a century.

That’s bound to have an impact on economic growth, economic activity, and we saw the economy fall by about 20%, as well as public finances. And I think the reason we’re in the position we are today in terms of debt is because the government did have to act and have to deal with something in terms of the pandemic. But we’ll be dealing with that for a generation to come. But in that 15-year period, for crises taking place, any other comparable period, if you had one of those, it will be difficult for government and business to deal with. But to have four in 15 years ­– that’s unprecedented.

PL: And Frances, has some of those drivers, they were global. Some of them were particular to the UK. How are we looking if we compare ourselves internationally?

FH: It’s very hard because the Brexit question makes it more complicated, because that is the one that’s very specific to the UK, whereas everyone went through the financial recession. We all had to deal with COVID. The Ukraine crisis is more heavily influenced in Europe, partly because of we’re part of Europe and also the issue around energy.

But there are still a lot of things going on that are the same, certainly in developed economies, which is really the ones you have to compare the UK economy to. If you look at the US, although the economy is growing, it’s not doing as well as they would expect it to. It’s doing better than we’re doing, but if you look at it from a US perspective, it’s slowing down. We know that in Europe, Germany has been struggling, but the other economies are not. They’re OK but they’re not doing brilliantly, and the UK economy really is struggling behind the pack.

It’s quite hard because whilst a lot of it has been the same, a lot of them are global forces. In the UK part of the problem is just how much we import in comparison to everybody else. We’re a very open economy that has its advantages and it has its disadvantages, and with COVID, I think that really hits home. But from that perspective, from a trading perspective, we are seeing prices come down. So that’s fine on an input side, but if you look at the flipside to exports, I think companies are struggling with exporting. And we know that we’re not back to the sort of levels that we were prior to the pandemic, because that’s when Brexit kicked in at the same time. It’s very difficult, I think the UK economy, even if we hadn’t had COVID and Ukraine and everything, would structurally have been hit quite hard by Brexit anyway, from a trade perspective.

IW: I was going to give that international perspective, particularly on debt as a share of national GDP. If you look at our main economic competitors, we as part of the G7 leading economies, that debt figure’s actually not too bad. We’re the lowest G7 economy as a proportion of debt as national economy. Only Germany’s lower than us. There are big outliers. Japan scored debt of 260% of national GDP, Italy’s got 140%. So, we’re not bad, it’s all relative. Whereas in 2010, our national debt was £1trn, now it’s £2.5tn. That gives an idea of how things have moved. But still, despite that comparative advantage, our room for manoeuvre in order to kickstart the economy to a new phase of better economic growth, much improved productivity, a transition to net zero, that’s very, very limited. We have not much room for manoeuvre.

PL: And the Office of Budget Responsibility agrees with you, I think they expect debt to continue rising until 2027, 2028. This problem is not going away anytime soon as it?

IW: With the demographics that we have – and again, other leading westernised economies have this as well – but with that ageing population, with the change to ratio between working people and either retired or economically inactive people, that’s going to get difficult as well. These are major challenges. I think we’re in a new chapter of economic history, which perhaps is not as beneficial as it has

been before. Low productivity, low growth, higher taxes, a difficult economic situation for many, many people with very limited room for opportunity. But despite that, one of our things for the chartered accountancy profession, which is really strong, is it’s a great career. It gives you really great rewarding opportunities, both in terms of career chances, experiences as well as remuneration. But actually, chartered accountants provide a really important role in the economy. Those trusted business advisors can help the economy help businesses see a path to higher growth, more markets, better opportunities. We can, as a profession, hopefully provide that chink of light in what is very, very much a gloomy scenario.

PL: Frances, just to wrap this up, just a bit of clarity on what exactly you think Mr Sunak meant by reducing the national debt. As Iain said, the numbers with other economies aren’t directly comparable. So how do we know when this pledge has been achieved?

FH: I think that’s a really difficult one, particularly with national debt, because they can be a bit of a moveable feast in terms of how you measure them. We all know statistics can be used in various different ways for various different means. I think the general feeling is that they would want the debt of GDP to be falling at least, and you should be able to see that over time, even if you’re just looking at the UK. That’s what they will want.

At the end of the day is not that that’s so much the issue. It’s having that ability to be able to finance projects that the government want to implement as part of the infrastructure change and all the rest of it. If the economy is doing well, it will just automatically reduce, which is why pledge number two is so important. That’s really where we want to be focusing, is getting GDP to increase, and that will make everyone feel better. The likelihood is you’ll have more money in your pocket and all the rest of it, so people feel better, confidence increases. How we compare to internationally is always difficult because even GDP is measured slightly differently in different countries. There’s never 100% fair comparison between countries. But I think that’s what’s important. What you want is that good feeling coming back. That’s a spiral up rather than what we’ve got at the moment, which feels like a spiral down. That’s what you want, and t they should really be focusing on those sorts of issues around productivity, around investment, both in infrastructure but also in skills, which Iain mentioned earlier on. It’s all about growth.

PL: Iain, Frances, thanks for joining the podcast again. It’s always a pleasure to have you on. I am sure we will be discussing whether those pledges are indeed met when the PM’s deadline arrives at the end of the year. Looking ahead, the next Insights podcast, we’ll be with you in early September, sharing news from across accountancy and ICAEW. After that the Insights In Focus series will return with a discussion of professional ethics, seeking to answer that fascinating question: Why did good people do bad things?

Also, in September, a heads up for a new content series exploring how the UK’s regions can harness their unique strengths to boost economic growth and resilience. Suren Thiru, ICAEW Economics Director, will be joining me in October to tell us more about that. Join us for all those. Thanks for being with us for this one. If you haven’t already subscribed to the series on your app, please do. You’ll never miss an episode.

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