Scottish Daily Mail

Chancellor urged to speed up City reforms

- By Mark Shapland

LEADING business and finance figures have called on the Chancellor to speed up reform of the City and stop kicking changes into the long grass.

Jeremy Hunt yesterday pledged to bolster the stock market by unlocking cash in pension schemes, adding he would divulge more in the Autumn Statement.

He said the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, and the rescue of its UK arm by HSBC, were proof ‘we need to build a larger, more diverse financing system, where the benefits of investment in high growth firms are available to more investors’.

He added: ‘I will return in the Autumn Statement with a plan to deliver that. It will include measures to unlock productive investment from defined contributi­on pension funds and other sources, make the London Stock Exchange a more attractive place to list, and complete our response to the challenges created by the US Inflation Reduction Act.’ But leading City figures warned ‘it was too little too late’, asking why Hunt was waiting until autumn to implement changes. The urgency comes as the UK loses important businesses to the US. Two weeks ago British microchip designer Arm said it will float solely on Wall Street, dashing hopes of a dual listing in London, while the £30bn building materials giant CRH plans to list its shares to the US.

The moves were described as a ‘kick in the teeth’ amid mounting fears that there could be a mass exodus. Julia Hoggett, chief executive of London Stock Exchange, welcomed Hunt’s comments but urged him to pick up the pace of reform.

Statistics show that in 2000, 39pc of all shares listed on the London Stock Exchange were owned by UK pension schemes and insurers but by 2020, this had fallen to 4pc. Instead, much of the cash has been shifted into bonds and property.

Hoggett (pictured) said: ‘Pace is needed, including to listing rules and other expectatio­ns placed on listed companies. We must unlock the risk capital available in the £4.6trillion of funds being managed by UK pension and insurance schemes, to put that hardearned cash back to work as it was always intended, as an investment for growth.’

The Tories have already launched two major reviews into how to bolster investment in UK businesses.

Former WorldPay boss Sir Ron Kalifa was charged in July 2020 with looking for ways to foster the fintech sector across Britain.

While in November that year, Lord Hill, the former European Commission­er for Financial Services, was tasked with finding out what could be done to make London a more attractive place for companies to list their shares.

Reforms were held off after Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous mini-Budget in September, according to sources.

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