We are the market leading firm and our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. Part of this is to make a constructive contribution to public policy debates. We maintain a strict policy of political neutrality. However, we believe that our insights can support and inform good policy making, strong opposition and better government. Politicians and policy-makers are important stakeholders to business and we believe it is natural that we build relationships with them in areas of joint interest. We also engage with politicians, officials and regulators outside of the UK to reflect the international dimension of our firm’s work.
In FY17 the firm engaged with policy-makers in a variety of forums, for example, we attended the party conferences of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP. We were particularly proud to welcome the Education Secretary, Justine Greening to our London Embankment office in January 2017 to deliver her first major speech on social mobility - a policy issue of particular interest to PwC. One month later, the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan visited our More London office to talk to our staff about Brexit, transport and security in London. Over 200 staff attended to hear the Mayor talk.
Outside of London PwC has a thriving business and our political engagement is becoming increasingly regionally focused to reflect the new balance of powers across the UK. In December 2016, Ruth Davidson MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives and her then Shadow Health Minister, Miles Briggs MSP visited our Edinburgh office to understand more about our work tackling mental health stigma in the workplace. We were happy to contribute to their thinking on this important subject. In Aberdeen, local MP Callum McCaig (SNP) visited our brand new office and talked to our team about the local economy and the oil and gas sector. We also hosted events with the two main West Midlands Metro-Mayor candidates and in Brussels we hosted events in the European Parliament on gender equality issues and addressing the skills gap across the continent.
In the past year we have responded to a number of requests to share our expertise on policy matters, for example, our Head of Immigration Julia Onslow-Cole gave evidence at a public hearing in the European Parliament on the rights of EU citizens in the UK. Julia also sits on the London Mayor’s Brexit Expert Advisory Panel, contributing to the city’s thinking on immigration and economic issues post-Brexit. Over the year four of our partners gave evidence to UK parliamentary committees including: to the Treasury Select Committee on Brexit in the insurance market; to the BEIS committee on corporate governance; to the Joint Select Committee for National Security on cyber security and the Lords Home Affairs Sub-Committee on data protection.
All the support that we undertake is fully-disclosed to the Electoral Commission and where relevant published on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists. In considering any assistance, the PwC Executive Board has regard to ethical considerations, the possible impact on clients of the firm and the firm’s overall reputation. We do not provide cash donations to the parties although we may sponsor targeted events for example at the annual conferences and we seek to ensure that our activity is balanced over the political cycle. This year we provided two junior secondments to the Liberal Democrat Policy Unit. The secondments totalled 1,287 hours and the non-cash support was fully disclosed by the party, in line with principles agreed with the Electoral Commission.