Queen's Speech promises a government for working people

Friday 29 May 2015

This week's Queen's Speech had a number of implications for workers across the UK, with trade union reform, full employment and immigration all on the agenda.

The speech gave the new Conservative government an opportunity to outline its plans, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying he intends to create a "clear programme" for working people that includes securing two million more jobs over the course of the parliament, as well as three million more apprenticeships.

Of the 26 Bills outlined in the speech, the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill was of particular interest, including a statutory duty to report on progress with regards to giving the UK the highest employment rate in all of the G7.

The Tories also plan to cut red tape for small businesses, limited companiessole traders and the self-employed so they can create jobs, with Mr Cameron tabling plans to increase the personal tax allowance to £12,500.

This will be in addition to a further reduction to the benefit cap to £23,000 a year, and a pledge that people working 30 hours a week on the national minimum wage will not pay income tax - something the Prime Minister hopes will incentivise people to work.

Responding to the speech, Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said it needs to "look beyond" the number of people in work, and additionally consider how people are equipped with the right skills to get into work and progress.

He added: "We need a stronger focus on increasing employer investment in skills and improving skills utilisation, more workplace development, and more efforts to create the high-performance workplaces the UK needs to increase productivity and living standards for all."

Overall, analysts said that measures aimed at helping the poorest in society - including Bills to ensure that people who are on the Minimum Wage pay no income tax at all and to turn around failing or "coasting" - support a 'one nation' concept.

However, they also noted that it is important to build on these developments by looking to spread the Living Wage as widely as possible, and ensuring that there is no easing of reform in schools in the most deprived areas.

Equally, analysts say the Queen’s Speech also highlighted the mission of 'full employment', which has been a keystone of one nation governments for almost a century.
Now, they say the focus needs to be on ensuring new entrants to the workforce are able to progress in their jobs and not become stuck in low-paid work, consequently helping the industry and economy as a whole to progress.

By Victoria McDonnell

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