The Queen’s Speech took place today and several bills are included, but others that were in the Conservative party manifesto have been left out. I’ve included bills that could affect your finances.
This will allow the government to transfer EU law to UK law without each one being debated individually. The bill will also let Parliament make changes to laws if they don’t ‘operate appropriately’ once we’ve left the EU. Cynical journalists like me might ask ‘appropriately for who?’, but maybe that will be answered during the debates.
SAVVY TIP: The Queen’s Speech also included a range of other Brexit-related bills, including a trade bill, customs bill, immigration bill, fisheries bill, agriculture bill etc
Social Care Bill
The information about this bill is incredibly vague and only says that the government will consult on measures to improve social care. There is no mention of the changes to the way your home may be taken into account to pay for care at home (the ‘dementia tax’ as it was called during the election campaign). We’ll have to wait until the government publishes more information for the consultation (or a leak of its plans).
Financial Guidance and Claims Bill
This will merge three financial advice bodies into one (Money Advice Service, Pension Wise and the Pensions Advisory Service). The new body will be a statutory body, answerable to parliament, and it will be responsible for co-ordinating the provision of debt advice, as well as pension guidance.
Claims management companies will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (currently they’re regulated by the Ministry of Justice) and the Financial Ombudsman Service will deal with complaints about them.
The FCA will also have the power to limit the fees that claims management companies can charge. Most of the bill would apply to the UK, but the debt advice part would apply to England only and claims management regulation to England and Wales only.
Consumer rights and energy markets
This isn’t a bill, but a green paper, in which the government will consult on measures to give consumers extra protection. This will include making it easier for consumers to avoid being caught out by subscription traps, where they don’t realise they’ve signed up for a subscription rather than a free trial or a one-off payment. The green paper will also look at ways of helping consumers get a better deal on ‘essential services’ such as telecoms. It’s light on detail on how this will be achieved, although it does say it will make bills easier to understand.
The government will also consult on how to make the home buying process simpler and quicker. There is mention of a price cap on energy costs, but it only says it will extend this to customers on the poorest value tariffs. There’s already a price cap in place for pre-payment meter customers, so I’m not sure who will be included this time round.
Smart Meters Bill
This bill means that the government is committed to the rollout of smart meters by 2020. The bill would give the government power to make changes to the regulations for another five years (to 2025) At the moment, a smart meter programme is being rolled out and everyone should be offered a smart meter by their energy provider by 2020. Around seven million people currently have smart meters.
National Insurance Contributions Bill
Legislate for changes announced in Budget and Autumn Statement last year, except those relating to Class 4 National Insurance, which the government abandoned shortly after the Autumn Statement. This means that the bill will include measures to abolish Class 2 National Insurance from April 2018.
National Living Wage, employee rights and the gender pay gap
No specific bills here, although the government does say that the National Living Wage will be 60% of median earnings by 2020. The Taylor Review is due to be published soon. It’s been looking at the gig economy, self employment and other flexible ways of working to see whether people have enough protection.
Travel Protection Bill
This will bring the ATOL scheme in line with the protection that people get if they book a package holiday. You’d get the same protection if you book at a travel agent or online. This would apply to the UK.
Draft Tenant Fees’ Bill
This bill will cap the fees that landlords can charge and limit the number of fees. If the bill goes through, landlords will only be able to charge a security deposit, a holding deposit and default fees. Holding deposits will only be able to be a maximum of one week’s rent while security deposits will be capped at a month’s rent. This would apply to England, but some parts of the bill may apply to Wales.
The government will consult on leasehold ‘in due course’. It’s concerned by the rise in the number of properties (especially houses) that are leasehold rather than freehold.
Civil Liability Bill
This bill is designed to crack down on fraudulent whiplash claims. The government says it should save motorists £35 a year in insurance costs. It will do this by making it illegal for insurers to pay whiplash claims without medical evidence and limit the amount of compensation paid. This would apply to England and Wales.
Goods Mortgage Bill
This will update the rules on ‘logbook loans’, which people take out against the value of their car. They work in a similar way to an ordinary mortgage, in that your car is used as security for the loan. However, debt advice charities have complained that people are getting into trouble with these loans.
The Goods Mortgage Bill will give better protection to people who take out these loans and ensure they are given better information about the loan at the point they take it out. Logbook loan lenders will also have to go to court before they can seize the asset the loan has been lent against, as long as a third of the amount borrowed has been paid.
If you have a logbook loan and you get behind with your payments, you’ll be able to voluntarily hand back the car. And it will be illegal to knowingly sell a car with a logbook loan outstanding on it.
It will also make it easier for sole traders and partnerships to raise finance against assets such as cars.
Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill
This will allow the government to make it compulsory for motorway service stations and petrol stations to install charging points for electric cars and make it compulsory to have insurance if you have a driverless car, as it is with ordinary cars. This would apply to England, Wales and Scotland.
There are a range of measures in this bill, but one would allow people who’ve been charged with minor offences to pay a fixed penalty online instead of going to court. The kinds of offences this bill envisages are travelling on a train without having a valid ticket (if it’s a first offence). You’d have to opt into this system, otherwise you’d go to court as normal. This would apply in England and Wales mainly, with parts applying to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill
This will establish a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner and define what domestic abuse is. This would apply to England. The Courts Bill, explained above, would also prevent those accused of domestic violence from being able to cross examine the alleged victim in court.
Armed Forces Bill
This will include provision to offer people who are returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave to have ‘an easier transition’ back into duty. The armed forces have a recruitment target of 15% female by 2020. Currently, 10.2% of service personnel are female.
What was left out?
The Queen’s Speech was notable for what it left out as much as what it included. This is what I’ve spotted in the manifesto that wasn’t included in the Queen’s Speech:
- Social care: The biggest omission from the Queen’s Speech were plans to make the value of your home taken into account if you need care in your own home.
- State pension triple lock: This was due to be replaced with a double lock from 2020.
- Means testing of winter fuel payments: This was due to be introduced and many pensioners would have lost out.
- Workplace pensions: Protections were due to be introduced to stop unscrupulous business owners abusing the pension scheme.
- Pay ratios: Plans for companies that are listed on the stock exchange to publish pay ratios.
- Regulation: The ‘Red Tape Challenge’ would continue along with the ‘one in, two out’ rule, which means for every new regulation that costs businesses extra money, existing regulations should be changed so that businesses save £2 for every extra £1 of costs imposed.
- School breakfasts: A free school breakfast will be introduced for all primary age children (this would have meant that free school lunches were abolished).
- Insulation: Insulate fuel poor homes by 2020.
- Fox hunting: A free vote on the reintroduction of fox hunting.
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