Westminster Business Forum

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Next steps for the UK subsidy control regime

Morning, Friday, 15th March 2024


This conference will look at next steps for the subsidy control regime and moving the state aid system forward in the UK, following the Subsidy Control Act 2022 coming into effect in January 2023.


It is bringing stakeholders together with policymakers to examine options for addressing key challenges and concerns for both local and regional authorities, and businesses during implementation of the Act. Areas for discussion include the new application and self-assessment processes and streamlined routes, and provisions placing increased responsibility on businesses to analyse the potential contribution of their plans to policy and public good goals.


Delegates will consider the work of the Competition Appeal Tribunal in regulating new subsidy control measures, following the opening of the Subsidy Advice Unit (SAU), looking at recent legal cases such as The Durham Company Limited v Durham County Council.


Those attending will assess further areas for possible improvement to the state aid system in the UK and future priorities, looking at the potential introduction of additional streamlined routes, and approaches to increasing the confidence of local authorities and subsidy recipients. There will also be discussion on possible alternative approaches to policy.


The conference will also be an opportunity to discuss the role of streamlined routes in contributing to the UK economic growth and wider policy goals, such as the transition to net zero and levelling up ambitions, as well as in supporting local authorities and devolved administrations in meeting the ambitions of their innovation strategies, environmental reform targets, and local and regional development goals.


We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with: Tessa Robins, Deputy Director, Subsidy Control, Department for Business and Trade; Sir Marcus Smith, President, Competition Appeal Tribunal; Rachel Merelie, Senior Director, Office for the Internal Market and Subsidy Advice Unit, Competition and Markets Authority; Professor Suzanne Rab, Barrister, Serle Court Chambers; William Bain, Head of Trade Policy, British Chambers of Commerce; and Robert Shaw, Chief of Staff, Innovate UK.


Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • Implementing the Subsidy Control Act 2022: key challenges including addressing concerns over the subsidy self-assessment process, and legal challenges
  • Regulation and appeals: examining the role and record of the SAU and Competition Appeal Tribunal, including recent cases
  • Supporting subsidy control delivery and an effective state aid process:
    • priorities for building a consistent self-assessment process for state aid application
    • reducing barriers to fair and accessible state aid, particularly for small and medium sized enterprises
    • next steps for promoting fair domestic competition, looking at case studies from the past 10 months
  • Contributing to wider UK policy goals and the economy:
    • assessing the role of streamlined subsidy control routes in promoting growth across different UK regions
    • the impact of streamlined routes in increasing investment in research, development and innovation
    • the role of the new regime in supporting the transition to net zero carbon emissions
    • the potential introduction of new streamlined routes, which can further contribute to the UK’s economy and wider policy goals
  • Future priorities and areas for development:
    • assessing the potential for the emergence of other areas of subsidy activity
    • ensuring streamlined routes benefit public authorities and are consistent with UK government priorities

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from DLUHC; DBT; CMA; Cabinet Office; Department for the Economy, NI; Department of Finance, NI; DAERA, NI; DESNZ; DfC, NI; DfE; DfT; DSIT; GLD; HMRC; HM Treasury; IPO; Ofcom; Ofgem; ONS; UKIB; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.



Keynote Speakers

Tessa Robins

Deputy Director, Subsidy Control, Department for Business and Trade

Justice Marcus Smith

President, Competition Appeal Tribunal

Rachel Merelie

Senior Director, Office for the Internal Market and Subsidy Advice Unit, Competition and Markets Authority

Robert Shaw

Chief of Staff, Innovate UK

Professor Suzanne Rab

Barrister, Serle Court Chambers

William Bain

Head of Trade Policy, British Chambers of Commerce

Keynote Speakers

Tessa Robins

Deputy Director, Subsidy Control, Department for Business and Trade

Justice Marcus Smith

President, Competition Appeal Tribunal

Rachel Merelie

Senior Director, Office for the Internal Market and Subsidy Advice Unit, Competition and Markets Authority

William Bain

Head of Trade Policy, British Chambers of Commerce

Robert Shaw

Chief of Staff, Innovate UK

Professor Suzanne Rab

Barrister, Serle Court Chambers

Speakers

Nicole Robins

Partner, Oxera

Amy Harhoff

Corporate Director, Regeneration Economy and Growth, Durham County Council

Nigel Wilcock

Executive Director, Institute for Economic Development

Ciara Kennedy-Loest

Partner, Hogan Lovells

David Trapp

Managing Associate, Simmons & Simmons

Marie Mackintosh

Subsidy Control Manager, Highlands and Islands Enterprise