Queen’s speech? More like a memo.
The Queen’s speech is usually a chance for the incoming administration to set out their legislative programme to back up their winning manifesto aspirations. Occasionally, they are an exciting signal of intent as regards economic and social development policy. In this we can think back to the windfall tax on private utilities in 1997 or the Decentralisation and Localism bill in 2010. However, this Queen’s speech is thin (bar the range of Brexit induced legislation), and dull.
Indeed, it is almost wholly devoid of anything which addresses the austerity induced social pain, the challenges within our local economies and growing issues of community cohesion.
“…this Queen’s speech is alarming
in what it is not saying.”
Whilst legislation is not the ‘be all and end of all’ of social and economic change, the Queen’s speech does set a tone and vision as to where the UK is going or what kind of country we are becoming. This is important. With challenges such as climate change, terrorism, a malfunctioning economy and a creaking political process, this Queen’s speech is alarming in what it is not saying. Indeed, the thinness of the speech reveals the underlying message: ‘we don’t have capacity or political power for any of that stuff, let’s get Brexit over with first’.
In terms of the big questions of the economy, (aside from required legislation for next phase of HS2) we will need to wait until the budget in the autumn for more of idea as to how the government intends to build an ‘economy for everyone’. It will be left to local government, working within existing legislation and alongside to local stakeholders to take up the mantle and build a more socially just Britain.
What needs to be done
(as stated in the CLES Manifesto) is:
- End local government austerity – including a restoration of funding to 2015/16 levels and a 0.5% increase above inflation for next five years. We need to protect services and give local government a chance to accelerate fairer reform and advance service innovations.
- Build community wealth – by effectively harnessing the wealth of institutions anchored in communities; by advancing social innovation, business citizenship, the sharing economy and the foundational economy in our poorest areas; and, by pursuing progressive procurement post Brexit.
- Enable a socially just devolution – the local government finance bill has been dropped, so there will now not be 100% business rates retention for local government, leaving them in limbo. This is an indication of how we may now have reached peak devolution.
- Invest in skills and work
It is not unusual for local economics and local government not to feature prominently within a Queen’s Speech. I suppose we now have parity – nothing else really features either!