Posted by

Amy Hazelwood, Parliamentary Engagement Intern

01 May 2013

So, what can we expect on the 8th of May? The Queen is set to introduce a contentious Bill that paves the way for HS2; this would enable allocated funds for the project to be raised ahead of the introduction of the “Hybrid Bill” required to start the project.  Businesses will welcome this Bill against the bleak economic backdrop, as it aims to kick- start vital infrastructure projects.

Pension reform also looks likely to feature. In April this year the Work and Pensions Committee published its pre-legislative scrutiny report on the Draft Pensions Bill, which focused on the introduction of a single-tier state pension. The reform itself would bring clarity for pension savers and parity for the self-employed (previously ineligible to top-up state pensions). The BCC will hold the Government to its commitment to make the administrative process of ending “contracting out” as simple as possible.  In particular the BCC will scrutinise the formulae used to calculate reductions for those who were previously contracted out and the compensation for those who have paid into a state second pension.  We have stressed the need for flexibility and time to make any changes to existing schemes, particularly given the decision to bring this reform forward to 2016.

In a recent Select Committee session on flood funding, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said he “hoped to bring the Water Bill to Parliament before the summer recess”. The lack of supplier choice available has undoubtedly contributed to the poor quality of water and service that businesses and households receive. The BCC welcomes the potential to be able to change water supplier; and introducing competition should result in lower costs and an improved customer service. These announcements should give businesses a real boost during the current challenging economic times.