Queen’s Speech: “Far too vague”

By Ian Mean Business West Gloucestershire director
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Business will not have heard very much new in the Queen’s speech outlining the government’s  programme.

The key announcement surrounded the leaked plans for new skills and training legislation under the much heralded Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

The government pledge is “to enable flexible access to high quality education and training throughout people’s lives”.

It will mean government funded training for all adults without the  equivalent of A-Levels.

And the student loan system will also be extended to those who want to study at local further education colleges at any stage of their life.

This is very welcome to companies whose employees want to develop their abilities.

I believe that many people in their 50s have now found they need to develop new skills as their traditional jobs may be changing.

So, the philosophy behind the Lifetime Skills Guarantee is a good one but when will it be delivered and how?

We have consistently seen the funding for further education colleges held back.

We must realise that the pandemic has forced a lot of people to re-think their future careers and they need help to do that.

Investing and improving national infrastructure is another pledge in the Queen’s speech.

But where are those big infrastructure plans for the South West?

The pledge to invest in new green industries to create new jobs is obviously very welcome.

There is a great appetite, especially in Gloucestershire, to develop these businesses and much interest from young people.

But here again, where is the funding coming from? Local  councils have great ideas but little sign yet of any special funding to support these green start-ups.

While not directly involving business, the whole issue of funding social care and integrating it within the NHS is possibly the biggest  raised in the Queen’s speech.

But the mention by the Queen in the speech written by the government was pretty vague.

“Proposals on social care will be brought forward”, said the Queen.

I seem to remember that when Boris Johnson was elected, he stood on the steps of Downing Street in 2019 and promised to fix social care.

I believe he cannot duck this issue any longer.

It is a national disgrace that something like 17 000 older people have to sell their properties every year in order to fund their care-that’s something like 325 sales a week.

How many of us would object to pay a little extra in income tax to pay for that care?

This was a speech delivered by an amazing, indefatigable Queen and the first ceremonial task since the death of her husband.

The  fare she was asked to present on behalf of the government did not match that indefatigability.

It was far too vague.