UK government uses the Queen’s Speech to unveil pro-business measures for the coming year.
It’s one of the highlights of the Westminster calendar, when the Queen descends on the House of Lords to unveil the government’s plans for the coming session.
Behind the pomp and ceremony of the most glamorous event that takes place in the Houses of Parliament, decision-makers have been working tirelessly on a list of measures that David Cameron described as “unashamedly pro-business”.
Relatively few of the major announcements in the Queen’s Speech were surprises. For example, legislation is being introduced to bring about the pension and tax reforms announced in March’s Budget Statement, while “defined ambition” collective pension schemes are set to be introduced. Targeted anti-avoidance rules will be introduced to help determine cases of tax avoidance for National Insurance contributions.
Yet businesses will have been paying particularly close attention to the proposed small business, enterprise and employment bill. If passed into law, it will make it easier for smaller firms to access the tenders for government procurement contracts, as well as increasing access to finance for smaller companies.
What’s more, big businesses will be forced to publish details of their standard payment terms, and the Prompt Payment Code will be strengthened to help smaller businesses get paid faster. That move went down particularly well with the Federation of Small Businesses and national chairman John Allan said the bill “marks the next stage in improving the operating environment for all small firms across the country”.
But there will also be tougher restrictions to improve working conditions for employees, with higher penalties for National Minimum Wage violations and a bid to prevent zero-hours contracts from being “abused”.
In addition, the government is planning to set up a register of beneficial ownership for UK companies, improving transparency by highlighting which individuals and organisations have vested interests in the success of each company.
According to John Longworth, British Chambers of Commerce director general, this will be welcomed by most companies since they already show transparency when it comes to corporate governance.
However, he added that the government must deliver on its promises to win over businesses: “Action, not words and bills, is what matters for business.”
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