On Friday 3rd July we saw our inaugural virtual iNHouse Lounge event. In a Westminster first we offered a chance for delegates to privately network with fellow professionals and industry leaders alike, whilst the expert panel discussed how Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government can meet the manifesto pledge of ‘levelling-up’ Britain.

We kicked off by inviting each panellist to give their thoughts on the levelling-up agenda, and how the current crisis would help or hinder the government meet that pledge. Treasury Select Committee Chair Mel Stride MP shared Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s appetite to create shovel-ready jobs, and forecasted that the government would likely have to take equity stakes in many businesses across the country. He also said the government ‘should feel it’s way very carefully’ around the possibility of a VAT cut. Building on Mel’s infrastructure points, Women and Equalities Select Committee Chair Caroline Nokes MP stressed the importance of government looking out for its BAME citizens, as well as providing equal opportunities for women and those lower paid in the levelling-up push. Political Editor of The Times Francis Elliott agreed that the lowest paid would be hit hardest by this crisis, and highlighted the importance of a nation-wide high-speed broadband infrastructure. Finally, former senior policy adviser to the PM Ross Kempsell said the key litmus test of this government’s success would be whether or not power is truly devolved to the regions.

Chair Katie Perrior then opened the floor to questions. The panel tackled a wide range of topics, from apprenticeships to social housing. Ross Kempsell pointed out the differences between the UK banking system and that in Germany, claiming the UK would do well to replicate Germany’s regional finance structure. On regional differences within the UK, Francis Elliott and Mel Stride both noted the growing ‘yes’ vote in Scotland, and highlighted potential pitfalls associated with tariffs if a deal with the EU is not agreed. On youth employment, Caroline Nokes focused on the difficulties for students, and told the panel that her own daughter, like many graduates, now face troubling uncertainty.

Throughout the event and after delegates used our platform to virtually network with other attendees via messaging and video calls – a Westminster first. We hope you’ll join us for our next discussion.

You can watch the event back in full here.