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PwC Weekly Media Briefing: Building trust in climate reporting, is the EV charging roll-out stalling?, and how Peppy is helping our people with their wellbeing.

This week’s topics: 

  • Road to net-zero - is the race to adopt electric vehicles stalling in second gear?

  • PwC’s Chief People Officer on new staff support service for pregnancy, early parenthood, fertility and menopause support 

  • Audit and corporate governance reforms are an opportunity to build trust in climate reporting

 

Road to net-zero - is the race to adopt electric vehicles stalling in second gear?

The temporary 5p reduction in fuel duty which was announced in the Spring Statement brought to the fore one of the conundrums in transport policy - how to balance the often competing pressures of affordability and decarbonisation.

Cara Haffey, Leader of Manufacturing and Automotive at PwC UK, comments:

  • The recent increase in fuel prices led the Chancellor to cut duty by 5p in last week’s Budget, however, with the continued focus on achieving our net zero commitments, measures to support the implementation of electric vehicles seemed to be starkly absent.
  • Our research shows there are now more than 130,000 electric vehicles on the roads (and a total of 700,000 battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), which is good news. But  given the Government’s goal of increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points from 30,000 today to 300,000 by 2030, the question remains - is the roll out moving fast enough? 
  • The ban of the sale of cars with internal combustion engines from 2030 is a significant step, yet with the provision of recharging infrastructure at very different stages across various UK regions - there may be a mismatch between our ambition and the reality.
  • While the target of  300,000 public chargers by 2030 is very welcome, if EV adoption is to be sustainable we’ll need significantly more chargers that are conveniently located, safe and easy to use. The private sector - working with local government - will have an important role to play in delivering this infrastructure. And fleet electrification will be a catalyst for charging deployment.

 

PwC’s Chief People Officer on a new support service for pregnancy, early parenthood, fertility and menopause 

Ian Elliott, Chief People Officer at PwC UK, comments:

  • This month PwC is launching a new service as part of our benefits package. ‘Peppy’ is an app based service where employees can access non-clincial support and guidance on specific areas of healthcare: pregnancy, early parenthood, fertility and menopause. It is open to employees of any gender.

  • As organisations seek to improve gender balance and equality, it’s important that we consider how to support our people as they go through personal and sometimes challenging life events.

  • Our people are increasingly turning to us for advice, guidance and reliable resources. Peppy helps us to meet this need - we've had great feedback on it so far, making it a fantastic addition to our health and wellbeing offering.

  • It’s our responsibility as an employer to ensure everyone feels included and platforms such as Peppy help people feel supported and understood by the teams they work with day to day.

 

Audit and corporate governance reforms are an opportunity to build trust in climate reporting

Hemione Hudson, Head of Audit at PwC UK, comments

  • As we await the Government’s (BEIS) response to proposed reforms to corporate governance and audit in the UK, corporate reporting continues to evolve. One important example is assuring a company’s reported progress against its climate change targets. 

  • In his 2019 independent review into the quality and effectiveness of audit, Sir Donald Brydon recommended that a company’s audit committee publish a ‘three-year rolling Audit and Assurance Policy to be put to annual advisory vote by shareholders for approval at the Annual General Meeting.’ 

  • BEIS carried this recommendation forward as part of its consultation on restoring trust in audit and corporate governance, as a way for companies to set out more clearly the extent to which the annual report and other disclosures have been scrutinised, whether by the existing auditor or by someone else. 

  • We believe the Audit and Assurance Policy is an opportunity for companies to build greater trust, specifically in their climate reporting.

  • High quality, independently audited financial reporting has always been a key foundation of an effective capital market. Expectations are now growing for the same level of quality and assurance over non-financial reporting – particularly tracking progress against targets relating to climate change.

  • The transition to net zero relies on capital being directed towards those companies that are helping to tackle climate change, requiring investors and stakeholders to place greater trust in climate-related corporate reporting.

  • As it stands, much of what companies disclose in relation to climate change sits outside of the financial statements and is therefore not subject to the same level of rigorous, independent scrutiny. This can raise concerns about how much climate-related data can be trusted, and leaves companies exposed to accusations of ‘greenwashing’.

  • The BEIS proposal to introduce an Audit and Assurance Policy could make a considerable difference. Under the policy, premium listed companies, and possibly eventually all public interest entities, would begin to publish an explanation of what independent assurance they intend to obtain over their reported information. This would mark a big step forward in increasing transparency and trust and would shine a light on the variable nature and extent of assurance currently being commissioned over these important measures, the scope and quality of which can hugely vary in practice.

 

Something to read:

The Spring Statement gave the Chancellor an opportunity to outline his vision for the economy, and how he plans to encourage innovation, investment and productivity, so what did we learn from Rishi Sunak’s announcements? Our head of Government and Health Industries Rachel Taylor examines the details here.

 

Something to listen to: 

In a special episode of our PwC Careers podcast, we speak to Britain's first female fighter jet pilot, and now leader of PwC’s Centre of Transformative Leadership, Jo Salter. Jo shares insights into her incredible journey in the Royal Air Force, how she came to join PwC, and her advice to anyone looking to join the world of professional services.

 

Something to watch:

New mandatory ESG reporting requirements being brought in  from April 2022, are carving a bigger and more important role for legal professionals in ensuring management teams and Boards are taking the right action and accurately reporting on environmental compliance and policy. In this webcast, our legal and ESG experts discuss the phenomenon, how prepared the industry is, and whether boards will listen to the advice.

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