Surging, settling and stepping down

By Richard Pickering, Head of Futures Strategy

One year on  Well you can’t accuse it of being a dull year since the EU referendum can you? The Prime Minister resigned, the Chancellor resigned and the leader of UKIP resigned. The Governor of the Bank of England announced his intention to resign. The man leading the Leave campaign resigned his ambition to become Prime Minister – for now. The leader of the Opposition suffered a vote of no confidence but refused to resign, and so most of his Shadow Cabinet did resign. The leader of the SNP declared herself the true opposition, but lost the most seats in an unexpected General Election called by a new PM, who some are now calling upon to resign. We should perhaps resign ourselves to the fact that the next year promises to be equally eventful.

Settled status  Paving a route to settle months of controversy, Theresa May has this week set out her offer to the EU regarding citizens’ rights. This is: (a) those EU citizens who arrived in the UK prior to a cut-off date (TBC – but not before 29 March 2017) will have a temporary right to live in the UK until: (b) they have accrued five years residence, at which point: (c) they can apply for ‘settled status’ (which is a bit like indefinite leave to remain). Those so affected will have broadly equivalent rights to heath, education and benefits as they do now, and there will be similar rights for family dependents. Those who arrive after the cut-off date will need to apply through new immigration arrangements, to be negotiated. Whilst there may be devil in the detail (not least, whether the ECJ gets to police the deal), the offer, described by May as ‘fair and serious’, should give UK businesses and EU workers some comfort over their status. 

Surge pricing  Many of us will have experienced ‘surge pricing’ in the context of the unwelcome multiple that Uber applies to its fares during periods of peak demand. However, soon this will be a common feature of a shopping trip, as retailers start to roll out dynamic pricing systems across the UK using electronic tags, reports the Telegraph this week. The system can help to manage stock levels and of course increase profit from customers who need to shop in peak hours. Compare this mark-to-market pricing of consumer goods with quarterly or annual accounting for real assets, and the ultra-slow 5-year re-pricing of rent. Potentially, new flexible lease models would allow for some measure of dynamic pricing, however the opacity of the property market and need for fixed commitments to achieve proper business planning probably renders this option unfeasible for most occupational contracts.

Car-free citiesSadiq Khan’s draft Transport Strategy for London predictably promotes public transport over private car use. However, the most seized upon proposal is the potential to introduce road charging – essentially a pay per mile system, which might over time lead to a car free city. Banning cars from city centres has environmental and urban benefits, but is often perceived as politically impossible. For instance, Oslo proposed a complete car ban in 2015, but was unable to gain political support for the proposal.  However, the Norwegian capital has now found a new way to remove traffic in a three phase plan. The first stage is to remove all on-street car parking spaces (replacing the spaces with public amenities), the second phases closes certain streets to traffic and adds new bike lanes, and in the third phase the idea of a complete ban will be revisited. How long until similar proposals reach the UK’s crowded city centres? 



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