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No mention of finance reforms in ‘disappointing’ Queen’s speech

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The Queen’s Speech has failed to set out any plans to legislate for the move to 100% business rates retention and included only a vague commitment to consult on proposals for the future of social care.

The Local Government Finance Bill, which would have paved the way for the national rollout of 100% rates retention, was dropped from the parliamentary timetable ahead of the general election.

The Conservative manifesto suggested the policy would be put on the backburner, although some finance experts in the sector had hoped the bill would be revived.

However, there was no mention of reforms to the way local government will be financed through 100% business rates retention in the speech this morning.

Speaking to LGC earlier this month, one finance chief involved in rates reforms discussions said: “If [a revived Local Government Finance Bill] is not in the Queen’s Speech when it does take place then that would send a very, very clear signal.”

A fair funding review, designed to settle the thorny question of ensuring a fair allocation of resources between local authorities, was due to be conducted alongside the reforms. There was no reference to that in the Queen’s Speech either, however that would not require legislation.

In her speech to parliament this morning, the Queen said her government would “work to improve social care” and would bring forward proposals for consultation. There was no mention of the Conservative manifesto policy of introducing a £100,000 asset floor below which people would not have to contribute to the cost of their care.

Simon Bottery, director of policy at the charity Independent Age, said he was “enormously disappointed to see only a passing mention of social care in the Queen’s Speech”.

“Social care was a critical issue during the election and now, despite promises of a ‘consultation’, it risks being swept under the carpet and ignored,” he said.

The speech also reiterated the commitment to hold a public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire and provide support to victims by creating the post of independent public advocate to act for bereaved families and support them at public inquests.

There was a commitment to “support the creation of jobs and generate the tax revenues needed to invest in the National Health Service, schools, and other public services”.

The government will seek to improve public services “while keeping taxes low”.

“It will spread prosperity and opportunity across the country through a new modern industrial strategy,” the Queen said.

The government will also seek to “attract investment” in national infrastructure.

The national living wage “will be increased”, the Queen said while “rights and protections in the workplace” will be enhanced. On skills, the speech reiterated previously announce plans to reform technical education with the introduction of ‘T-levels’.

On housing, the government will “ban unfair tenancies” and “help ensure more homes are built”.

The counter terrorism strategy, which includes the Prevent programme, will be reviewed, the Queen said, to ensure “police and security services have all the powers they need” and that sentences for terrorism offences are sufficient to protect the public.

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