The coalition has announced its final legislative programme before the 2015 general election. An advance joint statement from David Cameron and Nick Clegg explained that the centrepiece of the programme would be “groundbreaking” pensions reforms. These reforms will be effected through a Private Pensions Bill and Pensions Tax Bill, which will reform workplace pensions and remove the requirement to purchase annuities (following the Chancellor’s March 2014 budget announcement to that effect).
Other legislation announced includes:
- A Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill to help make the UK an attractive location to start, finance and grow a business. The Bill will require government ministers to report on a “deregulation target” for each Parliament. It is also intended to reduce delays in employment tribunals, improve the fairness of contracts for low paid workers and to establish a public register of company beneficial ownership. The Bill will also impose higher penalties on employers who fail to pay staff the minimum wage. It will also include measures intended to “limit excessive redundancy payments across the public sector”.
- A National Insurance Contributions Bill targeted at National Insurance avoidance, and to simplify collection from the self-employed.
- An Infrastructure Bill to bolster investment in infrastructure investment and planning reform, including measures to open up shale gas, geothermal sites and maximise North Sea resources. It will also allow new homes to be built to “zero carbon” standard and to guarantee long-term investment in the road network. It will also enable the sale of high value government land, encouraging development and increasing housing.
- A Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill, intended to ensure that the courts take “full account of the context” in the event that someone acting “heroically, responsibly, or for the benefit of others” is sued for negligence or breach of statutory duty.
- A Childcare Payments Bill, intended to help working families with childcare costs
- A Modern Slavery Bill, to strengthen powers to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking and support victims (see our earlier blog).
- A Serious Crime Bill targeted at child neglect, the disruption of organised crime and stronger powers to seize the proceeds of crime.
- A Recall of Members of Parliament Bill, and an Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill.
The Government also intends to publish a draft Protection of Charities Bill, although there is uncertainty over whether this will proceed to become legislation in the current Parliament.