Boris Johnson outlined his plan for the next year or so in today’s Queen’s Speech – listing the laws his government hopes to pass in the coming months.
But if you look closely at the plans, you’ll find a number of awkward details – and some things that he’s promised that are missing entirely.
Keir Starmer accused the PM of “papering over the cracks” with the plan – and packing it with “short-term gimmicks and distant promises.”
He added: “This Government’s never short of those, but it misses the urgency and the scale of the transformation that’s needed in our economy, in our public services and our society, and it lacks the ambition or a plan to achieve it.”
Here’s a round-up of the most awkward details buried in the small print of the Queen’s Speech – and the promises that are missing altogether.
Missing: Social Care
The Queen’s Speech devotes just nine words to social care and there is no firm Bill for reforming how it is funded.
The PM said in his introduction to the speech: “Later in the year we will bring forward proposals to reform adult social care.”
But that is a far cry from his claim in 2019, in his first speech at No10, that he had “prepared” a “clear plan”.
There are no new details from the government on how people will pay for their care and no timescale for the actual changes.
Missing: The Employment Bill
The Employment Bill, which has been dropped after a furore about whether workers’ rights would be torn up after Brexit.
The government insisted it still wants to bring forward the Bill “when the time is right”.
Keir Starmer said: “What was needed was a game-changing Employment Bill to end fire and rehire, to give proper rights to every worker from day one, and to raise the Living Wage to at least £10 an hour, and go further as quickly as possible.
“That measure alone would have boosted pay for 8.6 million workers, that’s what a Labour Queen’s Speech would have delivered.”
Barely there: Levelling up
Despite Boris Johnson making the Queen say his favourite phrase – “levelling up” – in the speech, there’s still no detailed explanation of what it actually means.
But not to worry, the Government will publish a ‘white paper’ – a basic policy document – about it later in the year.
Missing: Help for leasers
In January Ministers promised to make leases easier and cheaper to extend for flat owners.
They said they would abolish so-called “marriage value” and give people leases of almost 1,000 years.
But those appear to be missing from the speech.
There is a Bill to reform leasehold, but the Government’s briefing document talks about ending ground rent – not the other measures.
Missing: Ending prosecutions for historic crimes in Northern Ireland
There is no Bill to end prosecutions for historic crimes in Northern Ireland – as had previously been promised.
Instead No10 gave only vague details and said it is a “sensitive” issue.
The Government said it “will introduce legislation to address the legacy of the Troubles”, but not how, or what it will do exactly.
Reports suggesting there would be an “amnesty” for most pre-1998 crimes on both sides were met with fury.
Missing: Anything following up on the race report
Ministers enthusiastically defended the government’s headline-grabbing race report, which was accused of glorifying slavery and downplaying structural racism.
So many will have been surprised to see absolutely nothing in the Queen’s Speech which followed up on the report.
Small print: The new student exchange scheme is much less generous
The government singled out its Turing Scheme in the speech, which has been set up to replace the EU’s Erasmus student exchange programme after Brexit.
Non-disadvantaged students get £335-380 a month in living costs. But Erasmus paid £445, according to the UK in a Changing Europe think tank.
Small print: Tax rises and spending cuts could be on the way
In a briefing document released alongside the speech, the government warns “corrective action” is needed to stop borrowing spiralling out of control.
While the government insists this journey is already under way, it could mean tax rises or spending cuts in future.
It warns a 1% rise in inflation and interest rates would raise the UK’s spending on debt interest by £25bn in 2025/26.
Small print: Changes to planning laws are ‘a complete disaster’
A new Planning Bill will create a “simpler, faster and more modern planning system” in a territory fraught with controversy.
Tory ministers say 1947 laws on housebuilding are unfit for modern Britain and pushing up house prices as supply is stuck. But critics will worry about a demolition of safeguards and red tape.
Pledges include to “significantly” cut the time applications take to go through the system, “simplify” green rules, and change local plans so they are more direct about the type, scale and design of future developments.
But they’ve already been dismissed as a “complete disaster in the making.”
Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, said: “We’re desperate for more affordable housing in the capital – but these reforms risk making the situation worse.”
He added: “Our concern is that ripping up planning regulations will only lead to more slum housing built to maximise profits rather than address Londoners’ needs. There’s so much more the government should be doing to invest in affordable housing and to support local councils’ housebuilding ambitions.”
Small print: The process for handing out government contracts will be ‘simplified’
A Procurement Bill will remove many of the legal mechanisms around awarding government contracts.
Ministers will argue this is needed after Covid exposed problems with the creaking, over-complicated system.
But it will send a chill down the spine of those who’ve exposed the “cronyism” of Covid contracts going to allies of government.
The Billl pledges to embed transparency with better publication of procurement data in a standard, open format.
But it also pledges to make the system “more modern, flexible, innovative and diverse” – including giving ministers flexibility to “consider wider social value when picking suppliers”.