The Queen’s Speech 2022 – What’s In and What’s Out?
The IFoA's Policy and Public Affairs Assistant, Matthew Humphreys, breaks down the UK Government's legislative agenda following the Queen's Speech 2022.
For the first time in 59 years, Her Majesty the Queen did not deliver the Queen’s Speech in Parliament on Wednesday (10 May). Instead, the duty fell to her Son, Prince Charles, who was accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke of Cambridge.
While the symbolism of the speech gave the impression of a changing of the guard, the Prime Minister will hope that the speech will give his government the opportunity to reset and improve its fortunes ahead of the expected general election in May 2024. The Speech contained for the next Parliamentary session, yet it was notable for what was missing, namely, a specific Bill to deal with the rising cost of living – a key factor that saw the Conservatives lose almost 500 council seats at last week’s local elections (although the Prime Minister did hint in the Commons shortly afterward that the Chancellor would bring forward additional support in due course). Given that the cost of living crisis is only expected to get worse as we head into the autumn, you can be sure that Conservative MPs will be pushing the government to do more as we head towards a further rise to the energy price cap and even higher inflation.
For the actuarial profession, the most interesting proposal was the draft Audit Reform Bill. The draft Bill will set out proposed legislation on the future of audit, corporate governance, accountancy and actuarial regulation. Given that once introduced it will only appear in draft form, it will be issued for consultation before being introduced to parliament. We have pledged to continue our engagement with the government on these important reforms, but have that a clear timetable for reform has not been published.
Also of note was the announcement of the Financial Services Bill. With the government keen to demonstrate the benefits of leaving the European Union, the Bill takes the opportunity to overhaul Solvency II regulation, . A group of leading Financial Service trade associations (including the Association of British Insurers and TheCityUK) have also the Bill, noting that it is an opportunity to “drive a new regulatory culture grounded in proportionate, fair and predictable regulation.”
Given that the Government’s 80-seat majority relies heavily on the so-called “red wall” areas in the north of England, it was no surprise that a Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was also announced, giving residents a greater say over local developments. Likewise, a Bill to ensure that the UK Infrastructure Bank can become fully operational is also a nod to those constituencies, with the government needing to demonstrate that considerable investment is being delivered in these areas that do not traditionally vote Conservative.
Overall, given the uneasy position the Prime Minister finds himself in, and with only two years to go before the next election, you could have been forgiven for expecting a more ambitious set of policy proposals from the government. Whether today’s announcements are enough to woo voters back to the Conservatives remains to be seen, but you can be sure that the IFoA will continue to proactively engage with government at all levels, especially on the draft proposals to alter actuarial regulation.
For a more detailed analysis of the Queen's speech, please refer to this briefing compiled by the IFoA's Policy and Public Affairs Team.