The pomp and ceremony is over for another year – so how was the Queen’s Speech for you? With deficit reduction and reforming the House of Lords top of the agenda, was it a speech that resonated with you?
Her Majesty the Queen’s Speech is written for her by her (or, should I say, our) government. The priorities centred on the usual suspects – economic growth, deficit reduction and House of Lords reform.
We have a couple of soft spots for some of the things the Queen discussed today, so here’s our take on the key energy and finance announcements – not to mention a few hidden gems that might miss the headlines…
Low carbon Energy Bill
The Queen said the government’s focus for the Energy Bill will be low-carbon generation and investment in nuclear and wind. We recognise both as important methods for creating a sustainable future, but believe the government must put consumers first.
The cost to bill payers should be the government’s overriding concern when negotiating contracts to ensure we get value for money. Badly designed policies like the Carbon Price Floor, the Green Deal and the smart meter roll-out could cost us billions, so it’s imperative that this isn’t allowed to happen in the Energy Bill.
We hope to add a consumer silver lining to the Bill by ensuring we lobby for the government to reform tariffs as part of this package. We don’t want to be overwhelmed by a multitude of complex and costly tariffs.
In the money corner
On to the banks. The Banking Reform Bill is the latest stage in the journey to put our banking sector back on its feet.
The news that’s hitting the headlines today is the separation of retail and investment banking – to you and me that’s ensuring the banks keep our day-to-day dealings with them separate from the riskier investments. The result? Our hard-earned money is kept separate and safe. This is an issue we strongly support – our chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, explained why in his ring-fencing Conversation.
We’re already working on the Financial Services Bill, as you will have seen from our Watchdog not Lapdog campaign, to ensure the new financial regulator puts consumers first.
Two bills on pensions were addressed – one to bring forward the increase in the state pension age to 67, and the other to reform public sector pensions.
The Defamation Bill
But there are also other bills that won’t grab the headlines today which could have an indirect impact on you and me.
The Defamation Bill will update our libel law. For Which? this is very important so that we can publish research or expert opinion without fear of being sued. This will mean that our experts are free to raise concerns about products or practices that they believe could be harmful for people or society as a whole. And, in turn, that means more frank Conversations for you to come and comment on.
There were a couple of worrying omissions – the biggest being a bill to reform social care including implementing the Dilnot Commission recommendations. This will now be a draft bill.
So, do you think the Queen’s Speech will make any difference to your everyday life? What were the important bills for you? Will any of them have a positive impact on you?
Is the Queen’s speech good news for you?
No not at all (38%, 109 Votes)
Parts were relevant (34%, 97 Votes)
What speech? (21%, 60 Votes)
Yes on the whole (7%, 21 Votes)
Total Voters: 288