Today, the Queen will set out the Government’s plans. This is an important opportunity for Ministers to announce how they will deliver promises made in their election manifesto.
Sadly, despite their massive majority, we have already seen this Tory Government break many promises. They said they wouldn’t cut the number of our armed forces. They said they’d protect free pensioners’ TV licenses. They said they’d maintain international aid spending but all have been dropped in Government.
Today, we should see the agenda to ‘build back better’ and what Ministers mean by their ‘level up’ mantra after a decade of punitive cuts which have contributed to rising in-work poverty, homelessness and foodbank use across the country.
Priorities today should include making sure jobs pay and investing in young people. After the 2008 global financial crash, the Labour Government introduced the Future Jobs Fund which helped create over 105,000 jobs for 16–24 year olds. Covid has tripled youth unemployment but in the last nine months only 16,500 have been employed in the Tory Government’s ‘Kickstart’ scheme. Today we must see how this failing programme will be reconfigured to better support young people and employers.
We also need a National Care Service after years of failed Tory promises to improve Social Care for older and disabled people and the army of informal carers who have had support cut in the last decade. Labour is calling for a ten-year investment and reform, with a home-first approach at the centre to ensure people can remain independent. President Biden has adopted something similar in the States as part of his post-pandemic investment package and our care workers also deserve recognition after their frontline efforts in the last year.
Today could also be an opportunity to invest in the house building programme the whole country needs. Labour run Southwark Council is building 11,000 new council homes and an equally ambitious vision is desperately needed at national level, working in partnership with the private sector to build affordable homes for all. Legislation is also required to protect everyone affected by cladding and fires safety issues.
The Queen’s Speech should also address how the Governemnt will fix the problems created for British business under Johnson’s downgrade deal with the EU. Delays, charges, complex paperwork and bureaucracy were all predictable but have damaged business and need fixing. The UK service sector also needs greater access, but was completely overlooked by the Tory Government. This must be fixed now.
I hope today’s announcements go some way to addressing many of the problems the last Tory decade has contributed to, and to building back better as the Covid pandemic rescinds.