Queen’s Speech: what it means for your money

State Opening of Parliament 2017

This was always going to be a Queen's Speech that was a bit on the flimsy side, as the minority government focuses its attention on the measures it thinks it can get through the Houses of Parliament without being voted down. As such, we lost many of the more controversial things in the Conservative Party manifesto, but what did the speech mean for your money?

SEE ALSO: What is a hung parliament? And what does it mean for your money?

See also: Could you be tempted into the next pension scandal?

Much of the speech was devoted to the business of Brexit - and translating current EU laws into UK legislation. This will, over time, have the most profound effect on our finances. However, at this stage (at least until we know the kind of Brexit deal that is done) it's impossible to tell exactly what difference it will make.

There were, however, a number of clear legislative changes which will have a far more immediate effect.

The bad news

The pension scams clampdown won't be happening any time soon
A ban on pension cold-calling had been announced in the Budget, and was well on its way before the election. However, there was no mention of it in the speech, and it appears to have been left in the wreckage of the election.

Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon, says: "The Queen's Speech was disturbingly quiet on any legislation to ban pension cold-calling or give schemes and providers greater powers to block suspicious transfers. This is particularly disappointing as pension scams won't just go away without some serious action. In fact they're actually on the rise and while they constantly evolve, more and more people are being parted from their hard-earned pensions."

State pensions remain uncertain
David Newman, Head of Pensions at Close Brothers Asset Management says: "Pensions policy was conspicuous by its absence, with any drive to reform sliding down the political agenda in the wake of the result of the snap election, Brexit negotiations and the complexity of forming a new government."

Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, meanwhile, points out that as the triple lock currently has no formal legislation protecting it, it's hardly surprising it didn't come up in the speech. If the government makes plans to switch to a double lock, he says, it's something they are more likely to quietly revisit when they have rebuilt some of the support they lost from pension announcements during the election campaign.

Salary sacrifice is set to bite the dust
The National Insurance Contributions Bill will make the changes to salary sacrifice schemes that were part of the Autumn Statement. There are some exceptions, such as pensions, but this will vastly reduce employers' ability to offer people tax-efficient perks in return for giving up a portion of their salary.

There's no cap to come on energy bills
This was promised in the manifesto, but hasn't been forthcoming. However, the Queen did mention the government's commitment to ensuring fairer markets for consumers. Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, says he welcomes the commitment to tackle any unfair practices in the energy market, "especially those that bring down bills for more vulnerable customers in these uncertain times."

The speech also announced a smart meters bill - ensuring they will be offered to every household and business by the end of 2020.

No news on savings
McPhail says: "The most important dog that didn't bark was any kind of announcement on a savings and investment policy." Given the enormous savings gap we have in this country, the longer the government goes before putting together a joined-up approach to savings, investments and pensions, the more people will slip through the net.

The good news

The social care changes have been watered down
Unsurprisingly, the plan to means test care in people's homes has been watered down - after causing so much damage during the election campaign. However, it hasn't vanished altogether.

While individuals will be breathing a sign of relief, commentators point out that the problem isn't going to disappear just because the proposed solution was so unpopular. Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon says: "Our ageing population means social care funding needs to be tackled urgently. Realistically, the state can't meet all the costs and ideally policy would be based on cross-party consensus. The overall solution needs to strike a fair deal between individual and state contributions, be stable over time without constant tinkering and be easy to understand. People deserve certainty and stability to be able to plan ahead for this eventuality with confidence."

"An overall cap on any individual's contributions is essential to allow people to plan ahead while also protecting their inheritance aspirations. We hope the promised consultation will dust off earlier plans based on recommendations from economist Andrew Dilnot. These were to cap the amount an individual would have had to pay towards 'eligible' care costs at £72,000, but many would have struggled to understand what was eligible and what wasn't. A simpler approach might be to set a maximum time period over which the individual would be expected to contribute."

Good news for gig economy workers
There was more solidly good news for freelancers. Smith says: "The gig economy is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, but many workers in this sector have few workplace rights as they are deemed to be self-employed. Today's Queen Speech set out the government's intention to give greater protection to those affected by modern-day working practices, including gig-economy workers."

"In the UK, auto-enrolment means pension provision is largely delivered through the workplace, but as gig-economy workers are treated like self-employed, they are excluded. Giving gig-economy workers the right to employer pension contributions will start to bridge the gap between the privately pensioned and unpensioned. "

Plus good news for tenants
Maike Currie, investment director at Fidelity International comments: "Unsurprisingly one of Theresa May's few controversial policies - the banning of letting agent fees got a prominent showing with the Queen saying proposals will be brought forward to ban unfair tenant fees, promote fairness and transparency in the housing market, and help ensure more homes are built." The bill will also cap refundable security deposits, holding deposits and tenant default fees.

Car insurance price rises could be curbed
The speech announced a Civil Liability Bill, designed to address the "compensation culture" around motoring insurance claims. Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, says: "Anything that tackles soaring car insurance premiums should be welcomed. If an overhaul of the way courts deal with compensation claims can reduce levels of fraud relating to exaggerated or fabricated whiplash injuries, there should be a benign effect on premiums - an annual saving of £40 has been mooted."

Financial guidance should be a bit simpler
The announcement on financial guidance - and the merger of the Money Advice Service, Pension Wise and the Pensions Advice Service into one single body was unfinished business from the last parliament. McPhail points out, however that while this kind of guidance is welcome, that there is still a huge unmet need for advice - and many people are not getting the help they need to make key decisions.

Travellers have a few more protections
A new bill updates the UK's financial protection scheme for holidays. The Atol scheme will be updated, with an emphasis on reflecting the move towards online booking.

Borrowers will have protection
People who use things like a car as security for a loan will get new protections if they run into difficulties - because the lender will have to obtain a court order before seizing goods where the borrower has made significant repayments. They will also get the right to end the agreement by voluntarily handing over the item used as security for the loan, and the bill brings new protection for innocent third parties who buy a vehicle which is currently being used as security for a loan.

Children will still have free meals
The manifesto pledge to cut free school meals for infants has disappeared.

The winter fuel allowance is here to stay
Discussions of means testing the allowance appear to have come to nothing - with no mention of them in the speech.

Weird laws around the world
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Weird laws around the world

In Scotland, it's still illegal to be drunk while in possession of a cow. It's not clear why this law was introduced but it could have been due to many farmers getting drunk at the time! But what about being drunk while in possession of sheep?

This may sound bizarre but in Victoria, Australia it's illegal to wear hot pink shorts after midday on a Sunday! It's hard to fathom the point of this law but it could have been introduced so that churchgoers returning home after the Sunday service weren't offended.

Don't get yourself in a sticky situation in Singapore where chewing gum is prohibited. The law was introduced because it became difficult and expensive to remove stuck chewing gum from public spaces. The sticky stuff even stopped the Mass Rapid Transit trains from moving when it was stuck on the doors.

In Italy's fashion capital Milan, there's still a law that exists requiring its citizens to smile at all times or risk paying a hefty fine. Of course the law comes with an exception... you're allowed to look sad when visiting a hospital or at a funeral!

It's illegal to leave the house without wearing underwear in Thailand. We're not sure how this law is enforced or what the penalty is but it's a good idea to pack extra undies if you're travelling to Thailand! It's also against the law to drive without your top on and the police do hand out tickets to shirtless motorcycle and car drivers, so beware!

If you're staying with friends or family in Switzerland and they live in an apartment, you may want to think again before having a drink before going to bed as it's still illegal to flush the toilet after 10pm in most apartment houses. We like how polite the Swiss are that they don't want to wake the neighbours with their toilets roaring in the late hours, but what about the unpleasant build-up in the toilet bowl?

The mince pie may be a sweet treat you enjoy throughout the festive season but did you know it's illegal to eat one on Christmas Day in England? This bizarre law was brought in by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century, who put a ban on mince pies and anything to do with gluttony on 25 December.

In 2008, Mayor Massimo Cacciari banned the feeding of Venice's famous flocks of pigeons to cut the number of birds who were blamed for spreading filth and ruining the Italian city's stunning facades and monuments. This is one of the world's strange laws that exist and fines for feeding the birds start at 50 euros!

If you're thinking of renting a car in the Russian capital of Moscow, you'll need to keep it clean as it's against the law to drive a dirty car in the city and doing so could leave you with a hefty fine. But how dirty is dirty? A survey when the law was first introduced showed that motorists in Russia agree that a car is dirty when the number plate isn't visible!

In late 1799, a law banning women in Paris from wearing trousers was introduced and ladies wanting to 'dress like a man’ had to seek permission from the capital's main police station to do so. It was relaxed in 1892 so that trousers could be worn 'as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse' and in 1909 women 'on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars' could wear trousers. It was only in 2010 that French MPs discussed lifting the ban altogether!

If you're thinking of visiting the historic sites of Florence, you may want to leave that chocolate bar at home as it is an offence to eat or drink in the churches and public buildings. You could also be fined if caught sitting on the steps and courtyards in the city.

Leave that camouflage T at home if you're going to Barbados as it is against the law to wear the military-style clothing on the Caribbean island. It's not just for adults either as children are also prohibited from dressing in camouflage or carrying items with camouflage material.

Got a blocked nose and packed a nasal spray for your trip to Japan? You'll need to bring extra tissues instead as it is illegal to take some commonly available nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into the country. Being caught with one could leave you with a hefty fine!


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