Queen's Speech had 'almost nothing' for families struggling with cost of living, as Johnson hints at more help to come

The Queen’s Speech had “almost nothing” for families up and down the country who are struggling to make ends meet, economists said last night, as the Prime Minister hinted that the “fiscal firepower” of the Government could offer more in the future.

Boris Johnson admitted that he would not be able to “shield” everybody from the cost of living crisis, but promised “where we can help, we will.”

Meanwhile, Ministers have also been told that their plans on levelling up need to be “more ambitious” at tackling the north-south divide, as they enshrined the missions of their flagship policy.

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The Queen’s Speech - read by the Prince of Wales for the first time yesterday - set out plans to boost the economy, but amid the 38 Bills put forward there was no immediate extra help for households amid spiralling costs, soaring inflation and wages that are falling behind.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London.Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London.

Instead, the Government highlighted an already announced £22 billion package to help with energy bills, tax cuts and other measures and promised changes to create a “high-wage, high-skills” economy.

Mr Johnson said the “aftershocks of Covid-19 and the biggest war in Europe since 1945” are causing disruption around the world, with all major economies facing cost-of-living pressures.”

However, Dr George Dibb head of the IPPR Centre for Economic Justice said the cost of living crisis and “shrinking household budgets” are the “main brake” on the economy for the moment.

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“Today’s Queen’s Speech contains almost nothing for families who are struggling to make ends meet,” he added.

Similarly, Dan Paskins, director of UK impact at Save the Children, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is an emergency the UK Government should be dealing with right now.

“The Chancellor and I will be saying more about this in the days to come,” the Prime Minister had said however, any extra intervention to help with the current strain on household budgets will not be arriving in the next few days, it is thought.

Among the legislation proposals put forward yesterday was the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which will seek to drive local growth and regenerate towns and cities across England, and included plans such as new powers for local authorities to bring empty high street premises back into use.

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It also confirmed that the legislation will place a duty on the Government to report every year on the progress they are making when it comes to the levelling up missions, as was suggested in the policy white paper earlier this year.

However, the Treasury has been told to “get on board” with more “ambitious” plans if regional inequalities are going to be tackled for good.

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said; “The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill needs to be more ambitious about tackling the productivity gap at the root of the north-south divide.

“Tarting up town centres and tweaking planning regulation is not enough to rebalance our economy - Treasury needs to get on board.”

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He added: “Devolution over transport funding remains a key priority. The Shapps-Williams reforms are an opportunity to bring more responsibility – and accountability - to local leaders over the north’s rail network.”

Introducing the Queen’s Speech in a document released to the press yesterday, Boris Johnson said that the new “Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will help spread opportunities by driving local growth and regeneration, creating more of the jobs, homes and high streets that people want.

He added: “From the moment I became Prime Minister, my mission has been to deliver for the British people.

“Over the remainder of this Parliament, this Government will work night and day to ensure we do just that.”