Queen’s Speech 2017: What businesses need to know

"Paving the way for a pro-business Brexit", today's Queen's Speech set out a programme of reform for the next two years. Here's what it means for you

The Queen’s Speech was delivered by her Majesty the Queen in the Houses of Parliament today, setting out the government’s agenda for the UK on themes such as Brexit, data security, transport and the wider economy.

Referred to by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) as “paving the way for a pro-business Brexit”, the speech opened with the assertion that the “government’s priority is to secure the best possible deal as the country leaves the European Union” and went on to outline 27 bills and draft bills – eight relating to Brexit.

The speech also saw a number of key manifesto plans dropped or axed, such as the triple lock on pensions, after the Conservatives lost their majority.

To help start-ups and small business owners make sense of the speech and how it will impact them, Startups’ has rounded-up the proposed new laws relevant to entrepreneurs:

Brexit

Alongside a repeal bill to convert EU law into UK law, there are seven proposed laws to help the government deliver on Brexit. These include:

  • An immigration bill which will allow the government to control the number of people coming here from Europe “while still allowing us to attract the brightest and the best”.
  • A trade bill to allow the UK to operate its own independent trade policy upon exit from the EU.
  • A customs bill, to ensure the UK has a standalone UK customs regime on exit and the flexibility to accomodate future trade agreements with the EU and others.
  • A fisheries bill, to enable the UK to exercise responsibility for access to fisheries and management of its waters.

Data

The speech proposed a Data Protection Bill that will see the UK tighten up data laws to be more like the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR); legislation which comes into effect in May 2018 and requires businesses to take extra measures to ensure customer data is kept safe and protected properly.

The bill advocates stronger individual rights, alongside “the right to be forgotten”. If the bill is like GDPR, it will mean that businesses will need to be prepared for risks or penalties.

Employment

The speech confirmed a bill to legislate for Class Two National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to be abolished from April 2018.

Transport

A bill was set out for the High Speed Two rail link, authorising the powers to build and operate the next stage of the HS2 network between Birmingham and Crewe.

Energy

An innovation discussed widely on Startups.co.uk, the speech set out a bill to implement smart meters. The Smart Meters Bill will look to extend, by five years, the powers to change smart meter regulations and make sure the roll-out is delivered effectively.

Property

An important bill for landlords, estate agents and property entrepreneurs, a draft bill was announced to make the private rental market more competitive and affordable. The two key components of the bill include:

  • Capping holding deposits of more than one week’s rent and capping a security deposit at no more than one month’s rent.
  • Banning landlords and estate agents from charging ‘letting fees’ – any payments as a condition of tenancy with the exemption of rent, the capped refundable security deposit, a capped refundable holding deposit, and tenant default fees.

Read the Queen’s Speech 2017 in full here.

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