The government set out its future plans in the Queen's Speech this week. Due to the current political uncertainties there is no certainty about the progression of 26 bills announced. The legislation was dominated by Brexit-related topics. 

Here we highlight the Bills that will have the most direct impact on the operations of small and medium sized entities (SMEs) or their employees in tax terms. Brexit issues are further down.

Employment reform

  • Confirming that the government will support the Chancellor’s undertaking to increase the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median hourly earnings.
  • Lower the age for the National Living Wage qualification from 25 to 21 in the next five years.

Starting work: 2. Special rules for different types of worker

Starting work: 3 How to work out your tax if you are an employee

Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill

  • Following Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy's 2016 consultation on tips (for which no feedback was published), the government proposes a legal obligation on employers to pass on all tips, gratuities and service charges to workers without any deductions.
  • The current non-statutory Code of Practice on tips would be put on a statutory footing.

Tips, gratuities and troncs

Pensions Schemes Bill

  • Providing more options for employers in providing the establishment, operation and regulation of collective money purchase schemes (commonly known as Collective Defined Contribution pensions).
  • Giving the Pensions Regulator greater investigative powers over scheme providers and harsher infringement penalties.
  • Plans to develop a Pensions' Dashboard - an online site allowing people to view all their pensions in one place.

Pensions: At a glance

Environment Bill

  • Introducing charges for specified single-use plastic items.
  • Increase local authority powers to address sources of air pollution.
  • Give Government a mandate to recall vehicles when they do not meet legal emission standards.
  • Extending producer responsibility for waste and introducing deposit return schemes.

Plastic Packaging Tax

Company Cars

Easy Eco: ten essential steps to reduce your business' environmental impact

Brexit

The speech included seven bills directly linked to the Brexit issue, six of which may be delayed if the UK passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) following an agreement on Brexit with the European Union. Should there be no agreement, these six pieces of legislation would need to be urgently passed as they outline regulations and procedures in a no-deal end-game. The six include the:

  • Agriculture Bill
  • Fisheries Bill
  • Trade Bill
  • Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
  • Financial Services Bill
  • Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill

Agriculture

  • A seven year transition period replacing European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies with schemes enabling new infrastructure and equipment investment.
  • The introduction of payments for public good – including environmental protection and flood reduction.
  • Increasing the transparency of the supply chain.

Farmers: what expenses can I claim?

Flat rate scheme: farmers

Fisheries

  • Provision of grants to fishermen for marine conservation.
  • Moving from the Common Fisheries Policy to new policies preserving and increasing fish stocks.

Trade Bill

  • Creation of a new body to protect UK firms against unfair trade practices.
  • UK businesses to have continued access to international procurement deals under new agreements.

Trade Tariff: look up commodity codes, duty and VAT rates

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

  • Introduction of a points system for immigration, ending EU freedom of movement and making them subject to the same rules as non-EU citizens.
  • Supporting the EU Settlement Scheme, allowing existing EU residents leave to remain in the UK.
  • A clarification of Irish immigration status in the UK.

Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status)

Financial Services Bill

  • Simplify the process of selling overseas’ investment funds in the UK.
  • Implementing Basel standards on the regulation of global banks.
  • Access to UK markets for Gibraltar financial services firms.

Private International Law

  • Policy to implement key international agreements to ensure that after Brexit the UK continues to have clear and effective legal rules agreed between different countries.

External links:

Queen's Speech 2019 (a transcript)

Queen's Speech 2019 Background briefing notes

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