With the latest State Opening of Parliament taking place amid considerable economic uncertainly brought on by such factors as escalating inflation, cost-of-living pressures, and the continuing war in Ukraine, it is fair to say plenty of eyes were on this year’s event, including from UK business.
Ultimately, the Queen’s Speech – which for the first time, was delivered by the Prince of Wales – prompted a mixed response from business groups.
What did key business players have to say about the Government’s plans?
As is customary, the 2022 Queen’s Speech set out the UK Government’s agenda for the new parliamentary session. The speech outlined a legislative programme comprising some 38 bills, including an Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which the trade body UK Finance described as “critical in helping to address money laundering and the growth in fraud and scams, which are now the most prevalent type of crime in the UK”.
As reported by the magazine Business Matters, UK Finance also had warm words for the new Financial Services and Markets Bill, stating that it provided the opportunity to “tailor” regulations and increase competitiveness in the financial services sector in the wake of Brexit.
The Treasury added that the bill would also protect consumers’ access to cash by ensuring withdrawal and deposit facilities were available.
Other key proposals included the more frequent revaluation of business rates “based on more accurate data”, as well as support for renewable energy and energy security.
Also included in the Queen’s Speech was a pledge to complete the establishment of the UK Infrastructure Bank, drawing upon a financial capacity of some £22 billion to “support growth, improve connections across the country and help level up the UK whilst supporting our transition to net zero by 2050”.
Those particular plans won the backing of the IoD and the GMB union, the latter declaring it a “great opportunity to stop UK renewables jobs going overseas.”
But not everyone was full of praise for the Government’s proposals
Lest the above gives the impression that everyone in UK business approved of the contents of the Queen’s Speech, it is important to point out that was not the case. For example, there was a mixed reaction to proposals to provide local authorities with enhanced powers to bring empty premises back into use and initiate rental auctions of empty commercial properties.
Those measures would be contained within a Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, and UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said that “if properly considered and scrutinised”, such a plan could make a “huge difference in rejuvenating empty properties and reviving high streets”.
However, Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, was not convinced, arguing that such “political gimmicks” were “not the solution and will deter rather than encourage investment into the areas where it is most needed”.
Meanwhile, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors called the proposal “blunt”, and in a separate comment, expressed its disappointment that the Government had “sidelined” bolder planning reforms.
The professional body added: “We have supported root and branch planning reforms and now look forward to seeing where the Government’s level of ambition for a reformed planning system is.”
Finally, what about the heightening pressures on many Britons’ ability to pay their bills? A lack of further help here was a source of frustration for some observers, such as Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, who said that “we are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and a recession is looming”.
Challenges to ‘UK plc’ persist, but we can help and guide you through it
As the above sets out, there were reasons to both like and dislike this year’s Queen Speech. But whatever the concrete consequences of the Government’s latest measures may be for your own organisation, it is of critical importance that you benefit from all the expertise and support you need with your tax and accounting responsibilities.
This is precisely what we can provide here at TS Partners. To learn more about the business support, digital solutions, and VAT advice in Plymouth, Wellington or Newton Abbot that your firm can benefit from when you place your trust in our professionals, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email today.
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