ICB’s Payroll Policy Advisor, Ian Holloway of i-Realise, discusses the Queen’s Speech that took place on 11 May 2021

The State Opening of Parliament marks the start of a new UK Parliamentary year. Part of this includes the Queen’s Speech written for her by the UK Government and read from the Throne in the House of Lords. In a year when the usual ceremony was scaled back, the event is no less significant, as when She leaves, the Parliamentary session starts, and it is back to work for both the Houses of Commons and Lords.

The Proposed Legislation

It is important to detail all the Bills that the UK Government intends to see through in this session:

  1. Health and Care Bill
  2. Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
  3. High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill
  4. Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill
  5. Skills and Post-16 Education Bill
  6. Subsidy Control Bill
  7. Procurement Bill
  8. Planning Bill
  9. Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill
  10. Building Safety Bill
  11. Dormant Assets Bill
  12. Charities Bill
  13. Environment Bill
  14. Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill
  15. Kept Animals Bill
  16. Animals Abroad Bill
  17. Electoral Integrity Bill
  18. Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill
  19. Judicial Review Bill
  20. Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill
  21. Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concerns) Bill
  22. Northern Ireland Legacy Legislation
  23. Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
  24. Draft Victims Bill
  25. Immigration Legislation
  26. Draft Online Safety Bill
  27. Armed Forces Bill
  28. National Insurance Contributions Bill
  29. Counter-State Threats Bill
  30. Telecommunications (Security) Bill

Bookkeepers’ Watch List

Many of the above will affect us personally, however, for bookkeepers, I want to do my scaling back and highlight the ones that we should be looking at professionally:

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill

The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will apply in England only and aims to provide upskilling and reskilling where education and looking for new roles has been disrupted by the pandemic. It will build on the UK Government’s January 2021 white paper ‘Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth’ and include:

  • The introduction of a ‘flexible Lifelong Loan Entitlement’ giving access to Student Loan entitlement for 4 years of post-18 education from 2025. Look for the consultation on this later in 2021
  • Placing ‘employers at the heart of the system’ when it comes to designing training that is required to fill skills gaps

The employer-designed training proposals are one to look out for.

The Subsidy Control Bill

The UK Government wants to control the European Union (EU) State Aid framework which it says is not applicable or relevant now that the United Kingdom is no longer a Member State. In the first instance, State Aid will be renamed State Subsidy, yet the intentions will be the same - ‘to address the effects of distortive or harmful subsidies’.

I believe that this might be relevant to payroll and bookkeeping professionals given the EU State Aid interaction with things such as the Employment Allowance and payments from the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme. In any regard, it is one to keep a lookout for.

Plus, we have to remember that the EU State Aid regime will still apply in some circumstances in Northern Ireland. So, we seem to have an intriguing interaction with UK State Subsidy and EU State Aid.

The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill 

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 means that the next General Election is scheduled for 02 May 2024. The 2011 Act does not allow a Prime Minister to call an election before this time (with a couple of exceptions that played out in 2019).

The Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill repeal the 2011 Act and will allow a Prime Minister the freedom to set an Election when they want rather than when the law dictates.

The National Insurance Contributions Bill

This was introduced on 12 May 2021 and there are two things that we need this legislation for:

Freeports

The UK Government is establishing Freeports around the UK. According to the British Ports Association, a Freeport is ‘an area that is exempt from customs duties and tariffs to enable added-value processes to take place’.

The payroll implication is that employers with employees who spend 60% or more of their working time within the Freeport tax site will get a secondary Class 1 National Insurance Contribution ‘holiday’. According to HMRC’s Policy Paper, this will be:

  • From April 2022
  • For new hires on earnings up to £25,000 per annum
  • For 36 months

Veterans

From April 2021, a similar ‘holiday’ is available for ex-Armed Forces veterans entering civilian employment. See HMRC’s Policy Paper dated 12 May 2021 which says that:

  • Although the relief is available from April 2021, it will not be available through the payroll until April 2022
  • manual reclaim process will apply in 2021/22
  • There is no legislation, hence the need for the 2021 Bill

ICB will be keeping members updated on the progress of the above Bills as they progress through the UK Parliament.

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