What the Queen's Speech means for you

Queen's speechAlastair Grant/AP/Press Association Images

The Queen wasn't overly taxed in her speech today, with the whole lot over and done with in 15 minutes. There has been plenty of talk about what wasn't in the speech - the delay in long term care reform, and watered down reform of the Lords.

However, in those few minutes, the Queen announced a number of bills which will have direct effect on your pocket. So what does it mean for you?

Banking Reform Bill

This is the legislation that will implement the commission's recommendations to separate retail banks from their riskier investment banking divisions. The response has been positive. Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd says:"We are pleased that the Government is moving to introduce ring-fencing of retail banking. People can't afford to lose money on bailouts and want their savings to be protected from risky investment banking. The Bill should set out a clear and urgent timetable for reform and the Government must not allow this to be derailed by bank lobbying."

There will also be other measures designed to protect consumers in the event of disaster, including a new rule that means those with money on deposit will be the first to get their money back if a bank goes under.

On a more day-to-day level, there will be measures to make it easier for customers to switch their account from one bank to another by September 2013. And there's another crowd-pleaser: provisions to strengthen shareholder power when it comes to clamping down on executive pay.

However, there's something in there that could cost us more in the short term. There is likely to be legislation requiring banks to increase their capital reserves - making them more resilient in tough times. The problem is that this requires banks to stockpile cash - which means they won't be in a hurry to kick-start their loans businesses again.

Public Service Pensions Bill

This has already been the source of much debate and unrest, and what we have seen so far is likely to be a drop in the ocean compared to what is coming.

The overall aim of the bill will be to create a common framework for public service pensions, on an affordable level, with public sector staff taking more of the burden of cost. While taxpayers may be broadly in favour of the move, it's fair to say that public sector employees will be up in arms - and that all of us will pay the price through industrial action and strikes.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill

This has already been highly controversial. There has been a lot of positive feedback to the plan to cut red tape for businesses and reduce state inspections. Business Secretary Vince Cable argued: "Securing economic growth through business investment and trade is absolutely essential to recovery. Government's plans to cut red tape, boost green investment, reform the competition landscape and reform the banks are vital moves that would help strengthen the business environment and boost consumer and business confidence."

However, the moves to overhaul employment tribunals and make it easier for businesses to hire and fire have been met with a mixed response. There are those who are concerned it will erode employee rights, and lead to more sudden and unexpected unemployment - which can devastate family finances overnight. Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham, said: "Parents need jobs, not new laws to make it easier to fire people."

The Pensions Bill

This will usher in things that have been talked about for long enough to come as no shock to anyone. The bill will raise the state pension age to 67 between 2026 and 2028. It means anyone under the age of 52 will retire later than they may have initially envisaged. The bill will also contain details of how the government will increase retirement age further as longevity increases. Clearly this will be a financial blow for many. However, it is a blow they have had plenty of warning about.

It will also bring in the new flat rate pension at about £140 a week. The effect this has on you will depend on the pension rights you have already built up, as well as how the new pension is implemented. For those on a higher wage, who have been contracted in, there's a chance the flat rate could be lower than the amount they would be due to receive under the old system. For the lower-paid it will be a lifeline.

Children and Families Bill

There is a lot in this, including rights for fathers on divorce and speeding up adoption. But while the measures on divorce are likely to change the complexion of many divorce and custody battles, they are unlikely to affect their ruinous expense.

The measure that's most likely to have a profound impact will be a new ability for parents to swap 'maternity' leave from work. The short-term impact will depend on who is the higher earner. If this enables a higher-earning woman to return to work, it will boost the family finances. However, if it enables the higher-paid father to take leave, it is going to make an expensive time even harder for families.

The long-term impact, meanwhile, could be more profound. If sharing care becomes the cultural norm, motherhood need not mean a dramatic reduction in a woman's earning capacity, and we could see wages between men and women equalise and the glass ceiling for promotion shattered - or at least dented.
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