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Digesting the local election results

If either of the main parties is to be encouraged by their poor showings in yesterday’s local elections, it will be Labour. This is not only because the Conservatives have performed worse than Labour at their nadir under Gordon Brown’s leadership, but because the Liberal Democrats made the most substantial gains in Conservative-held rather than Labour-held areas. The success of Vince Cable’s party is perhaps the most instructive development in relation to the European elections – not necessarily because it suggests there has been a significant remain revolt in an election where the Brexit Party was not standing and UKIP continues to struggle, but indicates that the likes of Change UK might expect a poor showing as remain-leaning voters not content with the two main parties are satisfied that the Lib Dems offer a viable alternative. With the Greens making some gains too, and opinion polls showing that voters are unclear where Change UK actually stands on Brexit, it may be the established alternatives on the remain side that prosper in the European elections.

FCA looks at age gap and financial advice

The FCA has made two significant policy interventions this week. On Wednesday, it published a call for input on the financial advice market, evaluating the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) measures mostly introduced in 2012, and the Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR) which reported in 2016. The following day, the regulator published a discussion paper on the intergenerational wealth gap, and how regulatory policy might shape how new and existing financial products can meet the needs of different age groups. While not committing to any specific changes in either paper, the interest in both issues shown by the FCA is of note for those with an interest in markets such as pensions, where changes in the advice that can be offered to savers and the products that can be taken up by different demographics could have a significant impact on businesses in the space. Investors should be keeping an eye on how these two work streams develop over the coming months.

Fertility rising up the agenda

The issue of access to NHS fertility services is not one that is usually high on the list of priorities for politicians, but that has begun to change over the last 12 months. Steve McCabe, a backbench Labour MP, tabled a Private Member’s Bill last year which aims to improve access to NHS fertility services. The Bill has not progressed over the last 12 months, but the issue has risen up the political agenda as a consequence, and the opposition in particular has pushed the Government on its position on IVF treatment in relation to the NHS long-term plan. Although it is not an area the Government has shown an immediate interest in reforming, with McCabe’s Bill still on the table and cross-party support for improving access, it is an issue which may continue to become more prevalent within the Government’s health policy agenda.

Jamie Cater, the brains behind a lot of GK’s thinking, leads our policy work across the entire business but with a specialism in providing strategic advice to investors during M&A activity.