Queen's Speech: the Queen has outlined the Government’s legislative programme for the next year, on the State Opening of Parliament. Bills of particular interest to local government include:
- Bus Services Bill: will give English councils new powers to work in partnership with companies to improve journeys for passengers, and bring in new technology including on-board Wi-Fi – see further, below;
- Children and Social Work Bill: introduces new duties regarding children leaving care and adoption, and also sets up a specialist regulator for social workers – see further, above;
- Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill: will give law enforcement agencies new powers to protect vulnerable people, including children, from those who seek to brainwash them with extremism propaganda, plus powers to intervene in intensive unregulated education settings which teach hate and drive communities apart and a new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity;
- Education for All Bill: will extend the principles of freedom and accountability across the country so as to encourage excellence everywhere and give every child the best start in life. It will include new laws to expand the academies programme in the poorest performing local authority areas, a new funding formula to deliver fair funding for every school and pupil in the country and measures to make schools accountable for the provision and progress of excluded pupils so that those currently let down by the system are given an excellent education;
- Local Growth and Jobs Bill: will allow local authorities to retain 100% of their business rates, increasing the incentive for them to grow their local economies. It will also strengthen councils’ powers to cut business rates for local firms and give combined authority mayors the power to raise additional funding for infrastructure where they have the support of local businesses;
- Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill: this will include: measures to reform and speed up the planning process by minimising delays caused by pre-commencement planning conditions; a new statutory basis for the independent National Infrastructure Commission, to help invest in Britain’s long-term future; and streamlined processes supporting neighbourhoods to come together to agree plans that will decide where things get built in their local area;
- Wales Bill: further devolution of powers regarding energy, transport and elections to the Welsh Assembly;
- Soft Drinks Industry Levy: the Finance Bill 2017 will introduce a new levy targeted at producers and importers of soft drinks that contain added sugar from April 2018, as part of the Government's childhood obesity strategy;
- Draft Bill of Rights: measures to reform and modernise the UK human rights framework and protections against abuse of the system and misuse of human rights laws.
Bills carried over from the previous Parliament include the Policing and Crime Bill that places a new duty to on all three emergency services to collaborate, to improve efficiency and effectiveness.