There has been some criticism of late that the Coalition Government has been bereft of ideas and is simply running out the clock until the next election. The Queen’s Speech today with a number of individually very welcome proposals showed this to be false. What is still missing is a clear overall vision which draws all the Government’s ideas together.
The speech highlighted some welcome policies that have been announced before such as increasing the personal allowance, building new garden cities and strengthening pension freedom. Delivering on these reforms must now be a priority.
New proposals for group pensions alongside the measures which were announced at the Budget mean that the Coalition’s reforms to pensions are as ambitious as its reforms to education and welfare more generally.
Alongside this were some more good ideas such as ending excessive redundancy payments across the public sector, reducing some of the more absurd health and safety regulations and bearing down on red tape for small businesses. The proposals in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill in particular are to be welcomed.
However, providing taxpayer funded meals for the children of wealthier families and placing a 5 pence levy on plastic bags are hardly the mark of a bold, liberalising programme for Government.
Moreover, in a number of places the Government should have gone further. Cutting the cost of childcare is an important goal but the Government could really have taken an axe to the cost base of childcare provision through more deregulation. Its enthusiasm for shale gas is welcome but unfortunately we are still waiting for more detailed proposals on fully unleashing the potential of fracking. Releasing more land for new homes is a good step but much more ambition is needed if we are to begin to reduce the appalling supply constraints on housing; new starts are indeed up 31% from last year but more can and should be done.
There are definitely many things to applaud in the Queen’s Speech such as delivering more pension freedom and innovation, further liberalisation of planning and employment markets and more progress on opening up public sector contracts to small businesses. However, a clearer vision and a more ambitious programme would have been preferable.
For media enquiries contact Adam Memon at: [email protected] or 02072224488