This afternoon’s Queen’s Speech included pledges to improve the energy, property and car insurance markets.
The speech failed to include future plans for the state pension. The Conservative party had planned to scrap the triple-lock as the way of increasing the state pension in its election manifesto.
It was also due to make a decision on earlier increases to the state pension age.
There were a number of issues left over from the previous administration that weren’t mentioned either, including:
- changes to probate fees, increasing from a flat fee of £215 to a sliding scale depending on the size of your estate
- a reduction in the amount you can save into a pension once you start taking an income from it, from £10,000 to £4,000
- a cut to the dividend tax free allowance, from £5,000 to £2,000, due to be introduced in April 2018
- tax breaks for ‘micro-entrepreneurs’, including those who let out their home on sites such as AirBnb
National Living Wage and National Insurance changes confirmed
The pledge to increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 was included in the speech.
It was also confirmed that changes to National Insurance announced in the 2016 Budget and 2016 Autumn Statement would go ahead. This includes the elimination of Class 2 contributions – currently £2.85 a week – and National Insurance benefits for salary sacrifice schemes.
The proposed increase to National Insurance for self-employed people, which was shelved after the 2017 Budget, will not be reintroduced under this legislation.
FInd out more: national insurance explained – how much you’ll pay
More transparency in the rental market
The government pledged to end unfair tenant fees and ensure more transparency in the housing market.
The Draft Tenants’ Fees Bill pledged to tackle unfair fees for tenants in the private rental market. This will include a cap on tenancy security deposits at no more than one month’s rent, and on holding deposits at no more than week’s rent.
Landlords and letting agents will also be banned from requiring tenants to make any payments as a condition of their tenancy with the exception of:
- a refundable security deposit
- a refundable holding deposit
- default fees
Meanwhile, the government also promised to investigate ways to streamline the home buying process so it is ‘cheaper, faster and less stressful’.
Measures to reduce car insurance premiums
The government will aim to crack down on fraudulent whiplash claims via the Civil Liability Bill. This will ban offers to settle motor insurance claims without the support of medical evidence and introduce a fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries with a duration of up to two years.
It’s expected this will reduce the average motor insurance premium by £35.
Find out more: how to find cheap car insurance – our top tips
Improvements to the energy market
The government committed to tackling unfair practices in the energy market. Powers to make changes to smart meter regulations will be extended by five years to ensure the roll-out is delivered effectively.
The price protection currently in place for vulnerable energy consumers will be extended to more people on poor-value tariffs.
Find out more: Smart meter roll-out – how will it affect you?
Government to consult on social care
The government promised to consult on ways to improve the social care system and put it on a more secure financial footing.
Crucially though, there was no mention of the new system to pay for social care proposed in the Conservative manifesto. This had stated that people’s properties would be taken into account when they financially assessed for care costs for both residential and at-home care.
- What do you make of today’s proposals? Have you say on our Which? Conversation blog