The Queens Speech sets out the intent of Government over the next 12 months, attempts to lock in manifesto promises and sets out the stall of our new Government. Probably few have been more significant than yesterday with everything at stake.
At a macro level getting Brexit done by implementing the Withdrawal Bill and fixing the exit date top the bill, but there is a fair bit in there for businesses operating in the construction sector. In terms of specific policies related to construction we saw:
Investment in infrastructure and Housing
- Commitment to invest £100bn in infrastructure and improved Broadband coverage across the UK
- Funding to build 40 new hospitals in the UK in the next decade (over and above the refurb of 20 announced earlier in the year)
- On Housing there will be continued support for first time buyers to address housing affordability, improvement to shared ownership models and renewal of the Affordable Homes Programme. The Government is committed to building 1 million more homes. Further improvements to the Planning Process are also promised.
- The new £10bn Housing Infrastructure fund will be used to provide the roads, schools and GP Surgeries needed to support new homes.
- To help improve quality Government will also legislate to require that developers of new build homes must belong to a New Homes Ombudsman.
Employment and Business Responsibility
- Confirmation of the implementation of an Australian style points based immigration system post Brexit
- Increases in R&D Tax Credits to 13% (see details of our webinar on how you can claim them here)
- The introduction of a new Employment Bill that introduces a new enforcement body and enhance workers rights, support flexible working allow workers to ask for a more predictable contract and extend unpaid carers entitlement to leave.
- Government will introduce new measures to reduce the disability employment gap.
- Tighten company auditing an reporting to help improve public trust in business and help workers employed by large companies understand how resilient it is
- Clamp down on late payment more broadly and strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to support small businesses that are exploited by their larger partners
- Increase National Insurance Threshold to £9,500 and the National Living Wage to 2/3 the median wage (this is caveated by providing economic conditions allow). Plans to lower the age of National Living Wage to 21 from 25 were also included.
- The Government has committed not to raise income tax , VAT or national insurance
- The Establishment of a National Skills Fund to improve investment in education
- Reform Business Rates, bring forward the next re-evaluation and ensure that these are more frequent
Skills and Training
- The bring renewed focus to further and technical education Government has pledged an extra £400 million for 16-19 year-old education next year, an increase of 7 per cent overall in 16-19 year-old funding and the biggest injection of new money in a single year since 2010.
- There will also be additional investment in T Levels, supporting continued preparation for these courses with the first three starting from September 2020.
- The Government will invest an additional £3 billion over the course of this Parliament to support the creation of a ‘National Skills Fund’.
- The Government will invest £1.8 billion over five years in a rebuilding programme to upgrade the entire further education college estate.
- The Government are also planning to establish 20 Institutes of Technology across England- unique collaborations between further education colleges, universities, and employers –– offering higher technical education and training in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, to give people the skills they need for key sectors such as digital, construction, advanced manufacturing and engineering.
- Re-affirmation of support for net zero carbon by 2050 and confirmation that they will enshrine in law environmental principles and legally binding targets
Perhaps most significantly of all a new Building Safety Bill that will implement the recommendations of Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of the Building Regulations. Key elements of the Bill will include:
- Providing clearer accountability and stronger duties for those responsible for the safety of high-rise buildings throughout the building’s design, construction and occupation, with clear competence requirements to maintain high standards.
- Giving residents a stronger voice in the system, ensuring their concerns are never ignored and they fully understand how they can contribute to maintaining safety in their buildings.
- Strengthening enforcement and sanctions to deter non-compliance with the new regime, hold the right people to account when mistakes are made and ensure they are not repeated.
- Developing a new stronger and clearer framework to provide national oversight of construction products, to ensure all products meet high performance standards.
- Developing a new system to oversee the whole built environment, with local enforcement agencies and national regulators working together to ensure that the safety of all buildings is improved.
In a separate Fire Safety Bill, the Government will ensure that building owners and managers are clear that they are responsible for assessing the risks of external walls and fire doors in buildings of any height.
You can download a fully copy of the Queens Speech here