Top 10 takeaways from the Queen’s Speech 2019
The Queen’s speech – the second in just weeks – confirmed previous announcements and a number of Conservative election pledges, while also setting out new bills and reforms.
Here are the top takeaways:
1) Free hospital car parking for some
The Queen announced that unfair hospital car parking charges will be removed for those in greatest need.
Free hospital car parking will be available to staff and vulnerable patients, though the government will need to define these groups based on a detailed assessment of financial impact. However, this may include blue badge holders, frequent outpatient visitors, those who visit relatives who are gravely ill or have an extended stay in hospital, or carers, or staff working shifts which mean they can’t easily use public transport.
2) Greater protections for workers
The government wants to encourage flexible working and will look to create a single enforcement body to ensure workers get redress for poor treatment. It also wants to protect the low-paid and gig economy workers by ensuring that tips left to staff go to them in full, giving them the right to request a more predictable contract, extending redundancy protection to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination, allowing parents to take extended leave for neonatal care and giving unpaid carers one week’s leave.
3) Raising the National Insurance threshold and National Living Wage
The Chancellor already pledged to raise the National Living Wage to £10.50 an hour in 2024 and documents confirmed this “providing economic conditions allow”. As we already knew, the age threshold would be lowered from 25 to 21. These measures are expected to benefit around four million low paid workers.
The Conservative manifesto pledged to raise the threshold at which you pay National Insurance from the current £8,632 to £9,500 in 2020-21. This means anyone earning more than £8,632 will benefit to the tune of around £100 a year, helping 31 million workers.
4) Affordable childcare
A £1bn fund will be established to create higher quality but more affordable childcare before and after school as well as in the holidays.
5) Pensioner perks
As already announced, the government has committed to keep the pension triple lock, the winter fuel payment and the older person’s bus pass. However, there was no mention in the Downing Street documents on whether the BBC will reverse its decision to scrap free TV licences for over-75s from June 2020.
6) Pensions dashboard
Under the Pension Schemes Bill, the government wants a legislative framework to introduce a pensions dashboard so savers can see all their schemes in one place. It also wants to ensure that pension schemes provide accurate information to consumers.
However, the pensions dashboard has been on the agenda since 2016 and an estimated launch date was given for 2019. It’s long awaited but no further detail was given by the government.
7) Stronger rights for renters and help for home buyers
The government will abolish the use of ‘no fault’ evictions and instead give landlords more rights to gain possession of their property through the court system.
A new lifetime deposit scheme will be launched so that tenants won’t need to save for a new deposit every time they move house. These reforms apply to England only.
It also wants to support home ownership and is looking at a scheme which will offer local people and key workers a 30% discount when buying a home, funded by developers. This would be through a covenant, meaning the homes would remain discounted every time they’re sold in the future.
Shared ownership is also on the agenda as the government wants to make buying a share of a home fairer and more transparent and for the leasehold market, it wants to make buying a freehold or extending a lease easier and cheaper. It will get rid of ground rents on new leases and give homeowners new rights so they can challenge unfair charges.
8) Faster and more reliable broadband
The government wants to see all new homes are built with reliable and fast internet, as well as for those living in flats.
It wants to see faster speeds (one gigabit per second downloads speeds) as part of the ‘digital revolution’.
It comes as research reveals 40,000 new homes were built in 2019 without full fibre.
9) Airline failure
The government wants to reform the airline insolvency process to ensure holidaymakers are properly protected if an airline goes bust. As such, it wants to introduce a special administration regime for airlines which would keep the aircraft fleet flying and repatriating passengers from overseas during insolvency.
It also wants to bring in legislation for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to repatriate both ATOL and non-ATOL-protected passengers.
10) Railway disruption
Commuters should be able to rely on the transport network and the government wants to bring in minimum levels of service during strike action. Government documents reveal that the public shouldn’t be “disproportionately affected by strike action” and can “conduct their personal and/or family lives, and to access healthcare, education or employment”.
It wants to see minimum service agreements setting out minimum staff numbers and their role during strike action. This comes as since 2016, almost 200 days of rail strikes have taken place.