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Prince Charles stepped in to deliver the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament

   News / 11 May 2022

Published: 11 May 2022
Location: London, UK

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight

Prince Charles stepped in to deliver the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament yesterday. It was the first time since 1963 that 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II has not read out the government’s forthcoming legislative programme. Buckingham Palace said she was suffering from "episodic mobility problems". The speech set out 38 bills Boris Johnson's government hopes to get through parliament over the next 12 months. Bills that will impact businesses include:

  • An Energy Security Bill aimed at setting the path to net zero emissions and extending the price cap beyond 2023
  • A Brexit Freedoms Bill to enable law inherited from the EU to be "more easily amended"
  • A Procurement Bill to "provide new opportunities for small businesses"
  • A Financial Services and Markets Bill, which includes a new law to make banks reimburse scam victims and ensure consumers have continued access to cash. It is anticipated this Bill will help also create a more competitive post-Brexit financial services sector
  • A Data Reform Bill which is expected to reform the UK's data protection regime
  • An Economic Crime Bill to address money laundering and the growth in fraud and scams, which are now the most prevalent type of crime in the UK
  • A Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to drive local growth and regenerate towns and cities across England
  • A Harbours (Seafarers’ Remuneration) Bill giving ports powers to refuse access to ferries not paying the UK minimum wage
  • A Media Bill to enable the sell-off of Channel 4

Also announced was a UK Infrastructure Bank with £22bn of financial capacity to grow the economy and get it “back on track” after the pandemic. There was no mention in the speech of a long-promised Employment Bill. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) said that despite the government first announcing there would be such a bill to improve workers’ rights in 2019, and committing to it on at least 20 occasions, it appeared that the legislation has been ditched. The  TUC accused the government of “turning its back” on working people, saying it had "sided with bad bosses" because of the omission. The Confederation of British Industry’s Matthew Fell said: “Firms looking for the Government to address the cost-of-living crisis by growing the economy will be encouraged by the ambition in the Queen’s Speech.”
Boris Johnson has come under fire from various quarters for not better addressing the cost-of-living crisis in the Queen’s Speech. Speaking later in the Commons, the Prime Minister hinted at future help using the “fiscal firepower” of Government. “We will continue to use all our ingenuity and compassion for as long as it takes,” he told MPs, adding: “The Chancellor and I will be saying more about this in the days to come..I know people are struggling with their bills and that they are anxious about the future…While we must keep our public finances on a sustainable footing – and we cannot completely shield people from the fallout from global events – where we can help, we will.” The speech did reference the £22bn package of help with energy bills, tax cutsand other measures already announced.
More on the Cost-of-Living crisis: Numerous independent reports out this morning focus on steeply rising household costs:

  • The National Institute for Economic & Social Research (NIESR) predicts more than 250,000 households will “slide into destitution” next year, taking the total number in extreme poverty to around 1.2m, unless the government acts to help the poorest families hit by the energy priceshock
  • Nearly one in five (18%) people have lost sleep over surging prices in recent months, and a quarter (25%) said managing their finances is the leading cause of stress at the moment, according to research by Shawbrook Bank. Almost nine in 10 (86%) people worry about the cost-of-living crisis, and one in 10 (10%) reported seeing their monthly expenses on basic items rise by more than £300. A fifth (20%) have already had to dip into savings and a similar proportion (19%) worry they will have to do so in the near future, while nearly three in 10 (28%) have cut back on spending and reviewed their budgets, the survey of 1,500 people found.
  • Households could be left around £100 per month short of what they need to cover their spending by 2024 as costs rise faster than incomes, a report by the Yorkshire Building Society conducted in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) suggests. The report estimates average weekly incomes could increase to £680 and average weekly household spending to £705, giving the £100 shortfall.
  • Workers in the top pay bracket are more concerned about changes in the labour market compared to those who earn lower wages, analysis published by the Resolution Foundation and the Nuffield Foundationsuggests, because of more intense worries about getting less pay and flexibility when they find new jobs, as well as worrying generally about unemployment and a lack of government support from out of work periods.

Figures obtained by The Independent show that fertiliser producers who make up 95 per cent of the UK’s supply reported a drastic dip in sales as cash-strapped farmers held off buying due to high prices. Sales of fertiliser plunged by more than a third last month, prompting fears of a fall in crop yields that threatens to push up the price of dairy, lamb, beef and wheat. Jack Watts, agri-food policy manager at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) warned: “it is inevitable that we will continue to see some inflation in in some key food products” as a result.
Overdraft rates have reached 34.07%, the highest level since 1995, new figures by digital lender Freedom Finance show. Rates are up from 20.99% at the start of the covid-19 pandemic in February 2020, an increase of 62%. Credit card rates have also increased to 21.4%, a level not since the late 1990s.
British Gas announced yesterday that it is hiring an additional 500 call centre staff to deal with a rise in the number of distressed customers struggling to cope with soaring energy bills. The energy supplier’s owner, Centrica, also said it expects 2022 operating profits to come at the top end of City forecasts, which range from £739m to £1.4bn.
Tesco Chairman John Allan has criticised Chancellor Rishi Sunak for raising National Insurance at a time when households are struggling with a tightening cost of living squeeze. Contributions rose by 1.25% in April. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme Allan said: "If I’d been the chancellor, I wouldn’t have done it," he said. "It’s hitting people on modest incomes disproportionately and it’s absolutely the wrong time to do it. If I were in government, I’d roll that back." Allan also said there was an "overwhelming case" for a windfall tax on energy companies.
Tesco Mobile has been banned for replacing expletives with food names in an advertising campaign. The national newspaper ads, Twitter post and outdoor posters used the words “shiitake” and “pistachio” as allusions to swear words in ways that “were likely to cause serious and widespread offence”, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled.
Boots and Superdrug have run out of Piriton and Piriteze hay fever medicine made by GlaxoSmithKline, which is blaming an industry-wide shortage of the active ingredient, chlorphenamine maleate, which is also used to treat eczema and food allergies. The products are expected to be back on shelves within the next few weeks.
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle is planning to overhaul the airline's key management roles after a string of IT failures and flight cancellations. According to the Financial Times, Doyle has tapped new executives to head up the flagship carrier's operations, technology, and customer services units.
UK-based thread maker Coats Group said it had sold its Brazil and Argentina business to Reelpar, an entity backed by a Sao Paulo private equity firm, for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to complete in May.
NatWest has had to apologise to come 112,000 customer whose accounts mistakenly showed duplicated debit card purchases, meaning accounts were showing lower available balances than they should.
Toyota retained its crown as the world's top-selling carmaker in 2021, posting a record full-year net profit of 2.85 trillion yen (£17.86 billion), up 26.9 percent from the previous year, helped by strong sales and a cheaper yen. However, the motor manufacturer issued cautious forecasts as the pandemic and war in Ukraine continue to disrupt supply chains, and said Toyota it will suspend operations at more production lines at its factories in Japan this month due to the coronavirus lockdown in Shanghai.
Big tech equities have shed more than $1 trillion in value over just the past three trading sessions since the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates last Wednesday. Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Amazon, Alphabet, Nvidia, and Metaall lost billions in value, with Apple the biggest loser at $225 billion.
Apple has discontinued the iPod more than 20 years after it was launched.

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