Queen’s Speech promises full employment and the further devolution of powers across the UK

26 May 2015

In the opening to The Queen’s speech on Wednesday, the emphasis on ‘helping working people get on’, ‘supporting aspiration’ and devolving powers, emerged as the key focus for the next government.

Under the Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill, the Queen announced that ‘Legislation will be brought forward to help achieve full employment and provide more people with the security of a job’, She spoke about how the bill would give ‘new opportunities to the most disadvantaged’, through continuing to reform welfare and lower the benefit cap to £23,000.

The bill proposes to freeze the main rates of the majority of working age benefits including tax credits and Child Benefit for two years from 2016-17. The bill also includes statutory duties for ministers to report on employment rates, apprenticeships and the progress of the Troubled Families Programme.

The bill will also put in place a new Youth Allowance for 18-21 year olds. This includes stronger work related conditionality from Day 1, and mandatory apprenticeship, training or community work placements after 6 months.

In addition, housing support for 18-21 year olds will be removed. This has led to concerns about an increase in homelessness amongst the 20,000 young people affected by this reform.

‘This could be disastrous for the most vulnerable young people in our country’, comments Paul Noblet of the youth homelessness charity, Centrepoint.

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill provides new legislative powers to towns and counties giving new powers to elected mayors. These powers are to include: undertaking the functions of the Police and Crimes Commissioner (PCC). It is stated that the main benefits of the bill are to move powers out of Whitehall, boost growth and build a Northern Powerhouse.

The Queen’s speech stated that the purpose of this bill is to ‘bring different parts of our country together’.