Time for a UK Sovereign Fund in new technologies

Investments going up

People have been talking about setting up a UK Sovereign Fund for years. However, there is still relatively little clamour to support this initiative and make it real.

Of course this is an old idea. Norway set up its Sovereign Wealth Fund back in 1969, with the aim of managing Norway’s oil resources over the long-term. Over the last ten years, the fund has delivered a return of 8.3%, or 36.5% in real terms after annual management charges and inflation. Source Forbes.

Much more recently in 2006, Australia set up a Future Fund which is performing well and is investing in a number of different areas including disability care, medical research and nation building.

The UK could very easily start a Sovereign Wealth Fund and it would be applauded by the majority of people in the country as long as its core principles were right and it was totally apolitical. It’s time we did. We are a small but highly inventive people. We shall become an increasingly small part of the future world and yet there is no reason for our creativity, originality and inspiration not to be captured, supported and indeed amplified through such a fund

We should set up our own “Future technology Fund”. It should invest in technologies that benefit large numbers of the future population. This should include the following:

  • Health
  • Energy
  • Agriculture, landscape and environment
  • Housing

Some of the amazing break throughs that are happening in health technology should be supported and ultimately be part of this Fund. There is too much incredible work that originates here in the UK but that is allowed to be commercialised elsewhere in the world. We need to ensure that the Fund can provide a commercially owned structure which ensures that value goes into future generations living in the UK.

The Fund should be controlled on the basis that no funds can be withdrawn for 10 years minimum and then only a maximum of 2.5% of the value of the fund in any one government as long as the total fund is still always higher than previously. It should be independently managed and separately monitored.

We should incentivise entrepreneurs to bequeath their companies and the assets of these companies to the state. We should do this by providing them with entrepreneurial tax relief on their output as long as at least 25% of the assets ultimately end up in the Fund. This would continue to build on the “innovation and entrepreneur friendly” tax structure that now exists in the UK and which is much envied across Europe.

We desperately need to rethink how we fund our future. This would be an important first step in that direction.

Urban Pollards or modern day Puritans

Why is every tree in London being pollarded within an inch of its life?Pollarded tree

I can’t find a good answer anywhere.

I know that tree pollarding has existed since the Middle Ages as a way of managing unruly trees and ensuring symmetry but it does seem as though the Councils are getting carried away with sawing off misbehaving limbs!

It’s a great irony too, that at a time when every Council is under pressure to maintain the level of trees in their areas and keep the place as “green” as possible that at the same time they are encouraging their contractors to strip every tree bare of anything that resembles greenery.

I suspect that much of it is blamed on Health and Safety regulations. Nothing must be a potential risk to a passing pedestrian. But surely you should be able to have some say on what happens beside your own property.

Why for example did they chop off the branches on one side of the tree outside of this house? If this is about symmetry then I am a little surprised.Half pollarded tree

Perhaps the Council argues that the general public demand it. They don’t want falling branches on their heads or leaves on their doorsteps. They don’t want to have to clear anything up or to have any obstruction to their fine views over the neighbours.

For me this is another example of modern day Puritanism. It’s a case of increasing intolerance. If there is anything out of place or potentially disruptive, then it must be neutered. The world around us must be controlled as much as possible. At a time of increasing unrest in much of the world and in so many aspects of life, from ISIS to synthetic drugs, then maybe it is some comfort for people to know that their trees are not going to fight back. Perhaps it is another example of how public life and government is so out of kilter with society.