Cutting red tape, a shake-up of the business rates appeal process and helping small businesses were three of the main strands of today’s Queen’s Speech, which traditionally marks the opening of a new Parliament.
Houses would become law. Some observers estimate the measures could save businesses £10bn a year.
Among the highlights were:
Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill, is designed to achieve full employment “and provide more people with the security of a job”. The aim is for two million more jobs and three million new apprenticeships to be created. Ministers will be required to report annually to Parliament on their progress. The legislation will also implement a planned reduction in the welfare cap – from £26,000 to £23,000, and freeze working-age benefits, tax credit and child benefit for two years. As part of the government’s welfare reforms, young people will be required to “earn or learn”, with automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18-21-year-olds scrapped.
The Enterprise Bill will include measures to reduce regulation on small businesses in a bid to boost job creation. It will seek to cut red tape for British business by at least £10bn and, for the first time, require independent regulators to contribute to that target. In addition, it proposes to create a new Small Business Conciliation Service, to help settle disputes between small and large businesses, especially over late payment practices. The government also aims to improve the business rates system ahead of the 2017 revaluation, including by modernising the appeals system. And it proposes to introduce a cap on public sector redundancy payments to six figures for the highest earners.
Under the National Insurance Contribution amp; Finance Bill there would be no rise in income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020 and that “no one working 30 hours on the minimum wage pays any income tax at all”. It will also enact a commitment to raise the threshold before which people pay income tax to £12,500 – a move ministers say will benefit 30 million people. The government says the purpose of the bill is to “reward those who work hard and do the right thing”.